My first library conference as a personal assistant
As a personal assistant part of the job is organising travel, accommodation and papers for managers attending conferences abroad. The other part is hoping everything runs smoothly since you won’t be there with them.
It’s rare to see a PA at a library conference. Apart from the host assistants, I was the only PA delegate at the LIBER Annual Conference at Aarhus University, Denmark. The reason I was there was not to make sure Michael Jubb (Director of RIN, whom I PA to) knew what building the buffet would be served in, but for my own professional and personal development.
The ﬁrst day of the conference launched LIBER’s Young European Professionals Network, or YEP! (A very library acronym minus the exclamation point.) YEP! aims to connect young information professionals and develop their talents to contribute to a dynamic, stimulating and open European library community. The word ‘fun!’ was also in the class description. I didn’t see that in any of the other descriptions so I thought this was a perfect opportunity for young, library loving, fun-seeking me.
The session had three parts and was facilitated by an enthusiastic development coach.
Part 1 - Watch quirky video presentation on networking and development
A highlight of this presentation was a YouTube clip on the ‘Fun Theory’ which showed the making of a Stockholm train station staircase into piano keys in order to get people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do. As a result, 66% of people chose the stairs over the escalator. The point of this video was to get the group to think of how to incentivise YEP! members in a fun way. It’s a difﬁcult transfer but we came up with a few ideas in part 3.
We also wrote on note cards what we had to offer in terms of skills and experiences and what we hoped to get from others in the network. Then we did a classic AA round of introducing ourselves and explaining our note cards.
Part 2 - Speed dating
We were encouraged to date three people whose note cards we found most attractive. I dated a head of communications, a rare books librarian and a meta data wizard over coffee and Danish pastries.
Part 3 - How to keep YEP! alive
We brainstormed ways to develop and sustain the network and in the end decided to use LinkedIn as our main hub. There we would have discussion forums, job vacancies, conference announcements, videos etc. The closest we got to the piano fun theory was a photograph exhibition of our desks as a way to learn about each others’ jobs. I’ve got some tidying up to do!
The session ended with a group photo taken outside with all of us looking towards the sun.
Kissley Leonor would like to thank the British Library and the RIN for this development opportunity.