Archive for the ‘Personal development’ Category

Wow – when I look back at my blog post a year ago to see if I stuck to any of my resolutions, I cannot believe it has already been a year! Yet at the same time, so much has happened since then.

Life, in it’s wonderfulness, is unpredictable. And as such, some of the objectives I set myself didn’t quite happen. On the other hand, 2014 was an absolutely brilliant year for me that may be difficult to top; I achieved my life-long ambition of winning an Irish Dancing Prelimiary Championship; I became Secretary for SLA Europe and I was generously awarded with a travel grant to help me attend the SLA conference in Vancouver, Canada; I went on holiday of a lifetime to Thailand; I achieved CILIP Chartership status and I also took a new exciting job opportunity.

New job

Last May, I made the very big decision of taking on a new role at Norton Rose Fulbright, and leaving a permanent position with a great team at Trowers & Hamlins to do so. I have been remiss in not comparing the two roles and what I have learnt in my new job, so I will make sure to do so in a separate blog post very soon. But as such, some of 2014’s work-related resolutions became irrelevant, and I now need to set some new ones!

SLA Europe members

SLA Europe members

SLA conference in Vancouver

Attending the SLA conference in Canada was absoluely fantastic. Vancouver is a place of breaktaking beauty with a constant backdrop of dramaic mountains. I am so pleased I had the opportunity to visit Canada for the first time as a tourist, as well as obviously attending my second annual conference; from which I learned much more by being a working professional with some experience, in contrast to my first SLA conference experience as a library school student .

I would like to set a resolution of attending at least one conference in 2015, but this may depend on finances later in the year. I would also love to attend SLA’s annual conference in 2016, but as I am trying to save for my first property, again, we will have to just wait and see.

Chartership certificateChartership

One of my biggest achievements in 2014 was obtaining CILIP chartership. It took me a year of working on my chartership portfolio every day on my lunch break, and many meetings with my amazing mentor Sam Wiggins, but I finally got there, and looking over my portfolio I am so proud of my work. I think the sense of achievement I have is due to the amount of work and time I put in to it, and it is well worth it! Being chartered means I am looking at my role and how I fit into the library service and the larger workpace different and more strategically, as well as constantly looking for professional development opportunities for myself.

As I had such a fantastic mentor, I am going to aim to become a mentor myself in 2015 so that I can help others through the process. I am also going to work on revalidating my chartership for the summer.

Public speaking

After presenting at the BIALL conference in 2013, I was afraid that if I didn’t present again in 2014 that I would lose this skill, which took me many long and pianful hours to hone! So I volunteered to present at the CLSIG, BIALL and SLA Graduate Open Day again in 2014. I intended to write a post on how this went, but sadly this never happened (due to conference and changing job, etc.) I used mostly the same presentation slides, and it went very smoothly. I think it was an improvement on the presentation that I gave the year before as I was more confident, I didn’t speak so quickly, and my jelly legs were gone (see my original post for full jelly legs symptoms!). I still had to practice my presentation in the mirror a few times before the real thing, and I still had some nerves on the day but I thought it went really well.

In my new job I am required to present an induction once a month to new joiners, so I hope that this will keep my presentation skills in practice.

Non-professional goals

I would like to attend a yoga class for the first time. When I pass the yoga classes in my gym, they are generally full of very fit-looking and flexible people, so I have always been too intimated to try it. However, I have heard so many positive things about it, and I have a bad back, so I have decided that 2015 is the year I need to get over it and at least try a class! I would also like to get fitter and healthier generally, and go to the gym more and eat better.

This year, I am going to try and save money so that in 2016-7 we can buy a property. This sadly means no big holidays this year. As a result, I am going to write a list of places I want to visit in the UK, and have a go at visiting at least some of them. Any suggestions of places to go would be very welcome.


I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2015!


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Chartership… for some this can be a mysterious and scary word.

During my first job interview following my MA, I was asked if I would consider chartership and I very enthusiastically said “yes, yes, of course, I’d love to!”… having absolutely no idea what chartership was. I thought that studying an intense Masters in librarianship was enough… well I couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out librarianship is a demanding profession which encourages its members to constantly strive for excellence and seek professional development opportunities – and to be honest I am very happy about that!

Chartership is one of many steps you can choose to take after qualification to help you develop professionally and to be recognised for your professional achievements and commitment in the UK. From my personal experience, I had only heard the word ‘chartership’ spoken in a tone of dread, or tweeted along with “overwhelming” and “difficult”. I also received the impression that it was only worth going for if you had loads of experience and was fairly far in your career already. This is not the case!

There are so many misconceptions surrounding chartership. It was only at the suggestion of my friend Sam Wiggins, who at the time had just passed his chartership, that I actually looked in to the requirements for chartership and considered whether it would be right for me. And so I write this post to describe how chartership was such a positive experience for me, and why you should consider it!

So, how did I benefit from chartering?

  • Identifying and prioritising knowledge and skill development

As a reasonably new professional, undertaking chartership forced me to stop and take some time to assess what skills I already possessed, what skills would I like to gain for the future, and what actions could I take to get there. For example, training is a huge aspect of any information role in the legal sector, and was something I had no experience in. Additionally, I had a deep, deep fear of presenting and public speaking, and avoided all public speaking opporutnities. This was something I needed to rectify, and chartership motivated me to really tackle this weakness of mine and turn it in to a strength, by presenting at the BIALL conference and the SLA, CILIP and BIALL Graduate open Day for new professionals. I honestly think that without chartership, I  may have cowardly skirted around my public speaking terror for as long as I could.

  • Reflection

The chartership process teaches you the value of reflection both on your own professional development and the library service within which you work. In creating your portfolio, you become more aware of your organisation’s values, and how your service fits within the organisation and how your own work benefits your organisation. Obtaining this outlook and the habit of evaluating how your own projects fit in to the bigger picture, is a skill that I think will be useful whatever role or industry you are in, and will particularly help if you move on to more senior roles where strategy and justifying the value of your service to the seniors of your organisation becomes a key part of your work. This can also help you innovate, and suggest improvements to your current service or brand new projects that will help your organisation, and will inevitably improve your library’s standing with the key stakeholders.

  • The value of a mentor

Maybe the biggest benefit of going through the chartership process was having a mentor to discuss my professional activities and experiences with, and being guided to reflect fully on the outcomes of these experiences. My mentor Sam Wiggins was absolutely amazing both at responding to my freqent panic over tiny details of my portfolio, and encouraging me to think more widely about my career and where I wanted to go professionally. In fact, it was one of these chartership discussions which made me realise that my work at the time was becoming a little stale to me, and that maybe I was ready to move to a new, more challenging role. A few months later, I have a new job that I love and I am a chartered librarian! Although the formal chartership process is over, I still very much plan on having Sam as an informal mentor for the forseeable future (Sam if you are reading this, I am sorry but you did such a great job that I’m afraid you wont get rid of me that easily). I am aware that the quality of mentoring can vary, but my experience was extremely positive! So much so, that I am considering becoming a chartership mentor myself.

 Chartership certificateSo, what now?

The challenge for me will be to continue taking the time to identify my weaknesses or new skills that I want to gain, and then to motivate myself to take action to develop them. Professional development is very much our own responsibility, and it can be so easy to get swept up in our day to day work and leave our professional development till ‘another time’. I plan on using my annual review as a reminder to to evaluate my professional development, as well as my blog to remind myself to write reflectively about my role.

So although after a hard year the chartership process is formally over, chartership has taught me that our professional development is a continuous exercise, and so in fact it is never over!

If you’re interested in chartership and what it entails, do take a look at the CILIP website where they have examples of portfolios, and consider whether it is the next step for you.


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This time last year I remember thinking that I should write a blog post with some new years resolutions for 2013 (one of them being to blog more regularly)… and I never got round to it! Not a great way to start the year.

That being said, although I do not have a list of resolutions to use in my evaluation of the past year, 2013 has been an extremely busy and eventful year with numerous achievements both in a professional and personal capacity.

So, as well as setting up some resolutions for 2014, I thought it would also be useful to look back on 2013 and reflect on what has gone well, and what I could do better in 2014.

My job as an Information Officer

In January 2013 I would have been in my first professional role for six months. The initial period of blind panic was over, and I could settle in and focus on improving my role. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how I have done this over the past year, but an example is how I began to develop relationships with the PSLs of my departments (B&F and Corporate), and attend the department meetings and introduced myself to the departments. From January I also started providing inductions and various other training; having reached a point where I felt familiar with and sufficiently confident with the resources in order to provide training on them, and I managed a 2 week work experience placement. These are just a couple of examples that first spring to mind when I look back, and compare my role before and after my first 6 months. I think in 2012 I had learnt the basics in order to do my job well, but in 2013 I started developing added value and I was given extra responsibilities by my manager, which enabled me to learn more and gain a lot more confidence.

2014 resolutions:

  • Continue to develop relationships with the B&F and Corporate departments so I can better understand the department’s work and anticipate their information needs.
  • Develop my current awareness of B&F and Corporate legal news, so as to feed it to the departments and provide an improved information service.

Speaking at the BIALL conference

I think my biggest achievement over the past year was speaking at the BIALL conference. Public speaking has always been a weakness of mine – I have always avoided it where possible – but I was given the opportunity to speak at the conference with a friend, and I thought there would be no better chance of conquering this fear of mine. I have always believed that people tend to be natural public speakers, or (like me) not have the gift of public speaking, and I honestly thought I would never be able to stand up and give a presentation to a large group of people. It took a lot of time, practice and hard work, but I am really truly proud of myself for doing this, and I am very thankful to Sam Wiggins who encouraged me to do it. As a result, of our session at the BIALL conference I have also had an article published in a prestigious journal (Legal Information Management), which I doubt I would have put as a new years resolution last year thinking it was way, way, out of my reach! But this was something on my bucket list.

2014 resolutions:

  • To public speak again (so as not to lose the habit and become afraid again!)
  • To publish another article in a journal


Late in 2013 I began the chartership process. I feel that it is especially useful as a new professional to start the habit of evaluating your development needs early on, so that you can continue to do this throughout your career. This is why I feel that having a blog can be so helpful – if you say you are going to write a post a week, then it really makes you stop and think exactly what you have learnt or what you need to improve on a frequent basis, and how this can help you in your job to improve the service that you provide to users. For much of 2013 my blog has been poorly abandoned, and so I have much still to write about from 2013.

2014 resolutions:

  • Complete chartership and (hopefully) pass
  • Continue to catch up with backlog of posts for 2013, and try to blog weekly from now on

I also feel that a life-work balance is important, and so I am going to mention a few non-work related achievements and resolutions as well:

  • I made my very first wedding cake this year for a close friend of mine. I was over the moon with how it turned out, but it was so stressful that I never want to do it again! Resolution to say no if asked to do a wedding cake in 2014.Wedding cake
  • Irish dancing has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. After a few years of not dancing, and 5 years of not competing, this year I went back to Irish dancing initially just for fitness, but after a lot of hard work I entered a competition and came 2nd. My 2014 resolution is to keep the dancing up, and hopefully come 1st at another competition.
  • I entered a 10km in April 2013 (having only ever done a 5km before) but couldn’t compete due to injury. I want to enter another 10km and complete it injury free.

I wish you all the best for 2014, and for completing your new years resolutions!

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Earlier this week, I gave my first ever formal presentation at the SLA Europe, BIALL and CLSIG joint Graduate Open Day.

The History

Now, you may know that I am a rather shy person. At school I never used to answer questions in class, and if I was asked to speak I would shake like a leaf. Any opportunity for public speaking I used to actively avoid like the plague. I even remember badgering my brother to ask the ice-cream man for my ice-cream as I was too shy to ask him myself. Now, it is safe to say that I am not naturally a good public speaker.

Bashful the dwarf

Bashful the dwarf

During my undergraduate degree of Philosophy and Literature, we were never asked to give formal presentations, but only to lead seminars with our initial thoughts on a literary work or thinker; which I thought was wonderful at the time as I hated public speaking. I didn’t mind this so much as to me it wasn’t a formal presentation, and so I can be fairly talkative in group meetings at work and so on. Again during my Masters in Library and Information Studies at UCL, I only ever had to give one formal presentation where I was in a group of 5 and had to speak for precisely 2 minutes. For the whole of 2 minutes I just read from a page of notes, and made sure I looked up at the audience once in a while. So my experience in presenting and public speaking was virtually non-existent. So last year, when I was asked to co-present at the BIALL conference at 2013 I thought it was too good an oppotunity to miss, and it would be great to get some experience by presenting with someone else, who could always take over if I decided to die of humiliation, collapse on the floor and crawl out of the room. I also thought that as it was so far in the future, I didn’t need to worry about it. It’s surprising how quickly time flies.


So about a month or two ago, I was asked to speak at a Graduate Open Day which I thought would be the perfect warm up practice to public speaking. I would only need to speak for 30 minutes (including time for questions) and the audience was the most unscary, nice audience you could possibly ask for.

In preparing for this presentation, the first thing that I did was ask for help from a professional. Now luckily for me, working in a corporate law firm, we have a fantastic number of resource available including a great HR department with an excellent trainer. So I attended a training session on presentation skills; this covered what makes a good speaker, how to design a good presentation, how to present the information so that the audience takes it in, what kind of language you can use to make information come alive and so on. I have put below the most important points I took away from the session:

  • Think about your ending – what do you want your audience to do on leaving? Do you want them to be enthused, to take further action, etc? Keep this purpose in mind in when creating your presentation, and ensure your ending will leave them witha high energy and  feeling enthused, if that is what you are aiming for.
  • At the beginning, do something to grab their attention. Use a surprising picture, a quotation, etc.
  • The rule of 3 – always have an odd number of bullet points on your slides, as your audience will take them in easier. Also, try and keep the information on your slides as simple as possible, with as small a number of bullet points as possible – ideally only 3 per slide.
  • Bring information to life by telling a story – this will make the information more memorable, and can also give the audience a taste of your personality. If you can, use sensory language to really make the story come to life.

So with all of these tips in mind, I first wrote a list of things I wanted to cover in the presentation, created a hairline structure, and then with the structure in mind I wrote out a full script of what I wanted to say in an ideal world where I had a photographic memory. Using the script, I then filled out my slides with the important points, making sure there was always 3 or 5 points in each slide so the audience could take it in more effectively. I am not saying this is the right way to create a presentation but this was how I did it.

So, I had a presentation, but what do I do next?

Despite every inch of me screaming no, I contacted the trainer at work and asked if I could run through my presentation in front of him. I ended up running through it on 3 separate occassions, roughly once a week in the 3 weeks leading up to the Graduate Open Day.

During the first session, the trainer videoed me presenting the first 5 minutes. It became apparent that my hands didn’t know what to do (my arms were down straight by my sides, like the trained irish dancer in me, but my hands were twitching and flapping like they wanted to move as I talked!), and that I liked to sway as I spoke, which can be extremely distracting for an audience. So I repeated the first 5 minutes, this time starting with my hands looseley held in front of me in front of my chest, and standing on a piece of paper so I could hear if it rustled (if I swayed). I repeated the first 5 minutes over and over, and by the end had become much more relaxed. But there was still a long way to go. At the end of this first session, I decided I could attempt to go through the 30 minute presentation. But about 7 minutes in I stopped and basically gave up. I had lost my train of thought, had got on to the wrong slide and had basically panicked and felt that I really couldn’t continue.

Practice in the mirrorSo with this rather traumatic experience in mind, I practise it every night for the next week without fail in front of the mirror. Working on my hands and mentally slapping myself on the wrist if I swayed. I also used a timer on my phone, consistently taking 34 minutes say all I had to say, and I had my laptop to show me the slides as a prompt, trying not to use notes. However, the trainer had advised me to add notes to my slides and print these out (1 slide and accompanying notes per A4) as he felt I may need them as a security blanket.

The second session with the trainer, I managed to get through the whole presentation. Although there was a marked improvement in that I was now talking with my hands, and not swaying (yay!), it only took me 23 minutes. 23 minutes! Where had a whole 11 minutes disappeared to? Obviously I was speaking really fast, and I had noticed that at various points throughout I was running out of breath, which made my voice sound shaky. I also had a few moments where I got stuck trying to turn my notes over, which distracted my train of thought.

So my trainer gave me some very constructive advice regarding my slideshow; making my life easier for myself by just putting a screenshot of Twitter instead of using a link to the external website (during the run through I had panicked and lost the slideshow when I had the internet browser open), and advising me to introduce some statistics to emphasise some of my points. He also said to add sticky tabs to the notes to make them easier to turn over, and to just practice speaking extra slowly at home.

Again, I went home and practised, and practised, and practised. I still tried to do a full run through in the mirror once a night.

In the third and final session with my trainer, I ran through the presentation with no mishaps in 24 minutes. I was still speaking fairly fast but not noticeably so, and I was obiovusly missing out a few unimportant bits that I usually included in my run throughs at home. But I was fairly happy. As I knew the presentation inside out I could do it without notes, with the slides as my only prompt. Getting to this point was something I never could have imagined for myself, knowing my natural shyness and hatred of public speaking. This was a HUGE achievement for me.

Judgement Day

So, we now come to the morning of the Graduate Open Day. I looked at my notes once in the morning, and then didn’t look at them again before the presentation. My thinking was that whatever I didn’t know now I was not going to take in, and I was confident that I knew my stuff. I think I may have heard some general advice before that it is actually a good idea to give yourself a break mentally before you go up to present, but I couldn’t say where I heard this.

I gradually got nervous throughout the morning, and when I reached the venue I felt a little excited. I tried to distract myself by talking to the other speakers, and by enjoying the 2 presentations that went before mine. Finally, it was my turn to get called up.

CLSIG, BIALL, SLA Graduate Open Day

Myself presenting (picture taken by Simon Barron)

Post match analysis

Now, something that myself nor my trainer could have prepared for, was the fact that my legs instantly turned to jelly as I walked up to the stage. By the I was at the front, my legs were shaking so violently thyat I was sure the whole room could see it. My worrying about what the audience was thinking of my jelly legs, actually distracted me a little from my presentation, but I don’t think noticeably so. So what I did (and I knew my trainer would have screamed at me for doing this), I half leant, half sat on the very conveniently placed table behind me. As soon as I took the weight off my legs I instantly relaxed, stopped worrying about what the audience were thinking, and got in to the flow of my presentation, using the big screen with my slides as a prompt (no notes!). The jelly leg syndrome was probably made worse 10 times worse by the fact I was wearing heels, and so I now know to wear flats when presenting! I think I also felt more comfortable, as by half sitting down I was more on their level and I instantly felt more informal. This isn’t to say I wasn’t still nervous during the rest of my presentation, of course I was! But it allowed me to relax and give the presentation as effectively as possible. I also didn’t have the problem of running out of breath or my voice going shaky at any point during, which I was thrilled by.jelly

I was initially thrown by using a clicker for the presentation (I had only ever used a laptop when practicing), but after the first few slides it became quite natural.

I was desperate to get some feedback to my presentation, as I had no idea if I looked nervous, if anyone noticed the jelly legs, and most importantly whether the presentation was actually helpful to the graduates attending. There was a nicely timed networking session immediately after my presentation, and I had a number of people come up to chat and ask questions about going in to law after library school, which I take as a good sign. People also seemed genuinely surprised when I said I was nervous, so either they are extremely good actors, or I am a better actress than I thought I was! I was lucky to have a friend attend my presentation who assurewd me that I look totally relaxed, and I would like to think he wouldn’t lie to me just for the sake of being polite. So this was a huge achievement for me – to fool a whole room of people that I wasn’t terrified of public speaking. I also had a really nice email from a vendor who attended my presentation who said, and I quote, that my presentation was “inspirational” – I don’t think I could ask for more than that!

Here are some blog posts of the day by attendees:

What next?

Now by no means am I a great or comfortable public speaker – I only did as well as I did because I practised the presentation solidly for 3 weeks, which gave me the confidence to actually go up and give it. I also had a professional trainer who was extremely encouraging, and truly excellent in the tips and advice he gave me. I think I will always get nervous before speaking, and I will definitely have to work on my jelly legs before the BIALL conference, where I will have to be standing and presenting for a whole hour! But this presentation has certainly given me a massive boost to my confidence, and I honestly never believed I could have done it.

My personal advice to fellow nervous public speakers

  • Practice makes perfect. Honestly! Know your presentation inside out, and this will give you confidence. Don’t learn a script, as you will then get nervous about missing a line out, but just know the key points you want to convey
  • If you feel you may be susceptiblke to jelly leg syndrome like myself, wear flats not heels! Make sure you are comfortable.
  • I read on Ned’s article (mentioned below) about finding a few happy, attentive faces in the crowd, and coming back to them if you need reassurance. At one point in my presentation I saw someone yawning who looked like they were falling asleep, and I instantly looked elsewhere to someone who I had noticed was smiling and nodding along throughout the whole thing. So this is definitely a tip I would recommend!
  • Read Ned Potter’s 10 non-standard tips for public speaking – and there are some excellent comments at the bottom where other people have contributed their own tips on public speaking – and I have found them very, very helpful!

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This professional development post will reflect on what I have achieved in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

Settling in and making myself known:

Well, I like to think I have settled in to the Library team very well.

Gingerbread Pudseys

I have tried to make myself a little more well known in the firm; by volunteering to represent the department in a Marketing photography session (you can imagine everyone was very relieved I volunteered as librarians tend to be a very humble bunch), I have attended Corporate and Banking departmental meetings, and most of all I think by winning the Trowers bake-off in aid of Children In Need… my gingerbread appears to be famous and it’s amazing the number of people who now know me and stop to talk to me about baking! Every little bit of marketing helps, and of course by making myself known I am also reminding people of the library and information service available to them.


Quite soon after I began at Trowers I was set 2 projects by my manager. The first was to go through a backlog of Construction know how and internal Trowers publications and profile them all. Although I have made a lot of headway on this I have not yet finished it, but am aiming to finish by Easter.

The second project was to go through each of the 80 journals we subscribe to, and look at the options for going online or subscribing to the digital issue, the price differences and the licensing to circulate and share any digital content. This was a mammoth task that resulted in the creation of a huge spread sheet detailing all of the information for each journal. This project greatly helped me to familiarise myself with our journal holdings and the options available to us for each journal. On completing the spreadsheet containing information on all 80+ journals, I then proceeded to create a personalised spread sheet for each department listing the journals and number of print copies they subscribe to, those on the circulation lists, and their overall options for going digital.

MoneybankI have since been liaising with PSLs and partners of various departments to go through the spread sheets with them and review what they should do next. As a result we have so far made over £3,000 in savings, and there is still plenty more to be made. I think this is the greatest achievement of my first 6 months, as this whole process has taken a lot of time and effort on my part, as well as diplomatically presenting this to departments in a positive way as a way of circulating information more quickly and efficiently, rather than as a cost cutting process. I have also had to be very careful in trying to appease those who still wish to see the print copy and those who wish to go fully digital, and so far I think it has been a success. This is a project that is going to continue for a fairly long time, but I feel that by saving the firm money I have demonstrated my worth and feel that I have really helped the firm in addition to my day-to-day duties.

SLA role:

In November I was invited to become the blog editor for SLA Europe and consequently a member of the SLA Board and Digital Communications Committee. This is something I am very proud of, as I am sure the quality of my personal blog and my obvious enthusiasm at the SLA annual conference in Chicago last summer played a large part in securing my invitation to the role. I have so far enjoyed attending the board and committee meetings, but I feel that I have a huge amount to learn about how an association is run, particularly as SLA Europe is only a part (or chapter) of the Special Libraries Association, which is currently the world’s leading association for information professionals and special librarians, with over 11,000 professionals around the world. As the blog editor, the most important part of my role is sourcing posts, and I have met a lot of amazing and interesting people (albeit mostly by email), and am getting to know SLA members much more and expand my network even further; which is very useful to me as a new professional and particularly as I am still fairly new to the SLA. Continuing to work for the SLA is something I am very much looking forward to, and I am sure it will provide me with a wealth of experience and will aid my professional development immensely.

SLA Europe

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I feel like I need to warn readers again that this series of professional development posts are for my own personal benefit, to motivate me to reflect specifically on what I have learnt in the first 6 months of my first professional role. They are certainly not entertaining, but may provide an insight in to the role of a new professional in a corporate law firm. This particular post will reflect on what I have learned in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

What have I learned on the Enquiry Desk?

The most useful skills knowledge I have learnt is how to use a number of legal databases; such as Westlaw, Lexis Library, PLC and Lawtel. I have also learnt that it is not so important to already have all of the answers, as to know where to look for them and effective ways of searching for information.

Enquiry DeskI have also become familiar with which documents are needed for anti-money laundering purposes as well as how to locate them for companies inside and outside of the UK. There are a number of tasks which I never imagined I would ever be asked to do, from ordering death certificates to finding the contact details for a Baroness. There are of course a number of things I expected to do that I have now learnt how to do, such as how to conduct a press search and effectively search for cases or legislation. However, despite now having 6 months experience and spend half my working week on the Enquiry Desk, this is also the area I feel I have the most still to learn from, and have been told it will be a matter of years before I become fully confident on the Enquiry Desk.

What have I learnt about journals?

I have developed and added to my knowledge on journal publishing and administration with my current role. I now know the ins and outs of processing invoices, asking partners for authorisation of renewals and cancellations (and how frustrating it can be when they refuse to get back to you), checking licenses and copyright permissions with publishers, and dealing with publishers and agents among many other things.


What have I learnt about book cataloguing?

I have put all I had learnt on my MA regarding cataloguing into practice when cataloguing books. I should clarify that I only catalogue books where we have previous editions, and therefore do not catalogue new books from scratch. Even so, I understand the necessity for precision and attention to detail when cataloguing any changes the new editions have and I really enjoy this aspect of my role.

What have I learnt about know how?

Know how was a term that was never ever explained to me – I suppose it was assumed that I would know what it is. So from profiling know how and precedents for our intranet, I can now tell you that know how can consist of a variation of documents – from client bibles, to journal articles, to Government guidance, to training documents, to template documents covering all sorts of subjects. It is basically any information that may at some point prove useful to another in your organisation, who may be aiding a client on the same topic and may need some expertise on the subject, or may need to create a similar type of document, etc.

Know how

From profiling know how and precedents,I have actually learnt a reasonable amount about what the Banking & Finance and Corporate as departments actually do, which you will probably not be surprised to hear was very mysterious to me 6 months ago!

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This professional development post will explore the extent to which my previous work experience and library qualification prepared me for my first professional role.

How has my graduate traineeship at Norton Rose prepared me for a corporate legal librarian position?

 Firstly, I should mention that having 1 year’s experience in a law firm was an essential criterion that qualified me to apply for my current role. My traineeship provided me with this, and it also gave me an understanding of lawyers as library users, the resources they used (in fact I became too familiar with updating their loose-leafs!) and a basic understanding of how an information team in a corporate environment can operate.

More specifically, the circulation of journals was the biggest part of my role as a graduate trainee for Norton Rose, and I was very lucky to have this experience to draw upon when applying for an Information Officer role that was responsible for journals. I hadn’t realised how much I had learnt from my traineeship until I came to apply it in my job – I was already familiar with the majority of journal titles we subscribed to and I was aware of their publishing patterns and the process for claiming missing issues. Since beginning my new role I have developed on this foundational knowledge and learnt about the financial side of journals, dealing with agents, and administering invoices as well as reviewing journal usage and advising on renewing or cancelling titles.

During my graduate traineeship I received training sessions on the UK legal system, on EU law and how to prepare company information packs. This gave me a taster for what I would be researching on the Enquiry Desk, although admittedly I had forgotten much of it by the time I had studied my MA and began at Trowers.

I suppose the most important thing I learned from my traineeship was that I wanted to work in the library and information profession, and that I enjoyed working in a corporate legal environment. When applying for the traineeship I had no idea what area I wanted to go in to, and I thank my lucky stars that I was accepted by Norton Rose, as I didn’t realise how relatively rare it was to have experience in the legal sector, and how necessary experience is when looking for professional roles.

How has my Masters in Library and Information Studies from UCL prepared me?

When I completed my course, I still felt very much like I would have no idea what to do once I got a job. The UCL course is very academic and although I found the modules enjoyable I worried that they wouldn’t help me in the practical aspects of a professional role. On speaking with my friends on the course we all felt the same way, and when going for job interviews I almost felt like a fraud as I didn’t feel prepared for becoming a fully qualified information professional.

UCL logo

However, after a few weeks of settling in to my role and learning a variety of aspects of the job; from the treasured and highly guarded secret of where the stapler lived, to the more complex process of how to use the LMS, I started to realise how the knowledge I had learned on my MA was underlying everything I was doing (except for maybe locating the stapler). When profiling precedents and know how collections on the intranet I use a taxonomy to index them, and I wouldn’t have even heard of a taxonomy before my MA, let alone understand classification and cataloguing.

There are numerous examples I could cite here, but I think more than anything my Masters has provided me with an informed way of thinking. Continuing on my last example, when profiling a know how document I think to myself, “how may users try to find this document?”. They may search for keywords or the title in our Google style search box, so I know I must include these terms in the profile to make it searchable in this way. They may browse for it using the index and may browse by department, by author, by subject, etc. and so I make sure I cover all of these bases when creating a profile. This is only one example and you may think this is common sense, but looking back I can see how useful my cataloguing and classification modules were to me.

How has other work experience/SLA helped me?

I think winning the SLA Early Career Conference Award certainly helped my application stand out in securing my job, as it demonstrated my active interest in the profession. The annual conference in Chicago opened my eyes to the size of the international library community, taught me a lot regarding the purpose, work and benefits of a professional association, and the differences and similarities between British and American law firms (the US legal librarians were very jealous of the fact that in the UK we tend to be called “Information Officers”).

SLA Europe

I have recently become quite heavily involved with SLA Europe as a board member and their blog editor, and I am sure the experience I will gain from this will benefit me greatly in my role and aid my professional development.

I attend many of the sessions SLA Europe organise, and find that these provide very useful practical guidance both in the content of the sessions and through the networking opportunities that follow afterwards, in discussing how others in similar situations have approached certain issues. For example, I was able to report back to my manager on how Addleshaw Goddard handle social media and Twitter in particular (a hot topic in my library), and the success of Fieldfisher Waterhouse in releasing their wiki, when we are currently producing a wiki ourselves with the hope of launching very soon. Participating and attending SLA events certainly helps with my professional development, but I also feel that as a new employee the knowledge I gain helps me to really contribute and potentially improve the services we provide, and enables me to demonstrate my worth as a new and enthusiastic new professional.

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