During the last week BOBCATSSS 2010 took place in Parma, Italy. Although having quite snowy conditions outside, this year’s symposium has been marvelous!
Over 200 participants (ca. 150 of them students) from Europe and beyond enjoyed three days full of interesting sessions, workshops, and poster presentations, really well-organized social events in the evenings and an overall atmosphere which was absolutely inspiring for everybody involved. Especially the networking factor seemed to be quite strong this year.
On Day 1 of the symposium, IFLA / NPSIG hosted a workshop entitled “Bridging the gap – Involving new professionals in the international development of our profession in the digital world”. I was very happy to be joined by current IFLA President Ellen Tise who was one of the keynote speakers this year. As for the moderation of the brainstorming part, we were supported by Federica Marangio, member of the Italian organizing team and also very active new professional.
For getting started, we gave brief introductions of IFLA in general and current initiatives regarding new professionals in particular. While Ellen concentrated on the overall mission of IFLA and ongoing digital efforts like the new IFLA website and the Digital Library Future Conference in Milan last year, I was talking about latest projects like the “Adopt a Student”-programme and the IFLA LIS Student Paper Award before presenting background and scope of the NPSIG (have a look at our slides).
The following main part of the workshop was a brainstorming on three different topics. We asked the participants to form groups and to work on the…
1. Support of new professionals on a national level
- Are there groups for new professionals in your country?
- What does your national organisation(s) do to support new professionals (scholarships, discounts, awards, special conferences and so on) and are you satisfied with this support?
- How can this support be improved?
2. Recruitment of new professionals on an international level
- How can new professionals become more motivated and involved in professional activities?
- What are the challenges for new information professionals and what can be done to meet them?
- What should be the main goals and activities of IFLA / NPSIG?
3. Web-based component / digital platform for new professionals
- What would new professionals like to do in the digital area of the international IFLA network?
- Which kind of web-based component would be useful to help new professionals getting more involved in the IFLA community?
The first two topics are rather focused on the active involvement of new professionals on-site at events like the annual IFLA Congresses. As not every student can afford attending international conferences, we also wanted the participants to think about possible ways to include new professionals in the IFLA community on an online basis.
Finally, we ended up with three brainstorming groups. To give you an impression of the discussions, I want to highlight some of the findings of all three of them…
Group 1 was dealing with the recruitment on an international level. When talking about how to get new professionals more involved, group 1 saw a need for awareness of events and news outside of one’s country. Additionally, there should be the possibility to access relevant information from the distance.
The two students from Latvia also presented a very interesting event: At the moment, they are about to prepare a student conference at their university for discussing current topics and for creating a student network in their country. They felt that the main goals for IFLA and the NPSIG should be to keep on motivating new professionals to become active and to cooperate with national organizations as well to reach this goal.
The members of group 2 combined all three topics and started with describing the situation in their countries (Hungary and Italy). In Hungary the students identified a lack of fundings to go to conferences. As a consequence of this, such events are barely promoted to the students at their LIS schools. Few connections between the university and the job market could be another result of this situation.
A possible solution in that context could be the “online way”: By using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, the communication between students and the profession should be fostered. Furthermore, we talked about organizing and realizing conferences via web 2.0 tools (I was joining the group as a moderator). The use of webinars and skype meetings seemed to be a very interesting idea to establish the exchange of experiences online, too.
The members of group 3 also concentrated on the recruitment on an international level. One important experience for new professionals should be to catch the “networking virus”. During their presentation they pointed out the connection between work and fun when attending conferences. Additionally, these categories are strongly related to young people, an international and multicultural environment, and an atmosphere of socializing. Once more, time and money were discovered as the challenges for new professionals (especially students): There is a need for support from their universities. Otherwise, students should be given discounts at conferences. Maybe it would be even better to establish totally free access for students.
During the Panel about “Education of the 21st century professionals” on Day 2, I had the great possibility to introduce the NPSIG again to the audience and to present the findings of the workshop. Have a look for some additional information…
Follow-up – Keep on discussing!
Workshops provide a perfect opportunity to collect experiences and to bring together people with various backgrounds, even more when it comes to international conferences like BOBCATSSS. Therefore I really enjoyed the brainstorming with our workshop participants and would like to thank you all for sharing your ideas with us!
At the moment, we are about to reshape the mission and objectives of the NPSIG. One of the main questions is how to get a younger generation of LIS new professionals actively involved in the IFLA community. The results of the workshop, many inspiring conversations as well as a lot of new contacts made during the whole BOBCATSSS symposium act as a good starting-point for this purpose.
But this was only the first step of the process. I would like to go on with the discussion of the mentioned questions. What are your thoughts about an online tool for new professionals at the IFLA website? Do you have similar or different experiences regarding the national support in your countries? Are there any best practices that come to your mind? Feel free to share your ideas in this blog and also on the NPSIG Fanpage at Facebook.
BOBCATSSS 2010 was fantastic – I am already looking very forward to next year! See you in Hungary and stay in touch!