Chris Rhodes from the Statistics Resource Unit, House of Commons Library in the UK was the Leadership & Management Division sponsored ECCA award winner. He was asked to respond to the questions/presentation from the library students at the LMD tea.
I attended the SLA conference for the first time this year after winning the Early Career Conference Award co-sponsored by SLA Europe and LMD. I found the conference fascinating and the opportunities to learn about information practices and meet information professionals from other parts of the world were quite incredible.
I was invited to the LMD afternoon tea on Monday and so got to hear the very interesting talk from Ning Han and Jennifer Keane of LSU. Among the various questions that they addressed regarding the nature of leadership and management, one was ‘what is the value of the LMD?’
One of the greatest challenges facing new LIS professionals, certainly in the UK, is the lack of a clearly defined career path. In some ways this can be viewed as an opportunity because it means that we don’t have to rigidly stick to the footsteps of our predecessors – we are free to enact our own path, without the constraint that professionals in other fields are subject to.
However, this can also be daunting. The vast array of names given to similar posts and the fact that organisations often have widely differing expectations from posts with similar names means that even choosing an appropriate job to apply for can be challenging. Added to this is the perfectly understandable (but frustrating) fact that salary scales in one organisation rarely even resemble their counterparts in other organisations.
One of the most straightforward ways for new LIS professionals to begin to make sense of this baffling situation is for them to study the career paths of senior librarians, who, by definition, have already negotiated this tricky path. And herein lies one of the most valuable aspects of LMD. Having the opportunity to meet and get to know LIS professionals who have become established within the profession serves to reassure that there are ways to progress up the career ladder, and also provides useful information about sensible roles to peruse and interesting ways to enliven a career or broaden experience.
There is a great pool of interest in the career paths of other librarians in the UK, born partly out of the necessity explained above, and partly out of general interest – librarians seem hugely interested in what other librarians are doing. With a view to this, some of my colleagues in the UK established the Library Routes project. This wiki collects the career stories of librarians from all over the world, in any sector and at any level of seniority. The wiki is endlessly interesting, and would only be made more so if some members of LMD were to add their biographies to it. So if you have time, please consider further enhancing the value of LMD, and the Library Routes Project, by putting something about yourself up there.
- Submitted by Chris Rhodes, ECCA award winner