Up, Up and away ….

SLA2014_Btn_AttendeeTwo weeks today & SLA’s annual conference will be starting in Vancouver. As well as last minute things like finalising my schedule I’m beginning to make my plans for the trip to Vancouver.

As I’ve shared my thoughts on preparing for conference before  I thought I’d share my traveller’s tips. As a good researcher I checked what others had to say on the subject. Here’s a great piece from the BBC America site with valuable advice on travelling to the US . I also consulted the flight attendants on my recent flight back from the US. When asked for their top three tips for surviving long flights they replied:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate;
  • Avoid alcohol, particularly if taking sleeping tablets or other drugs;
  • Set clock to new time zone and move into that time zone. It’s a mind game.

Here are my top tips for making flying as hassle free as possible:

* Put all your liquids in your carry-on luggage in a ziplock bag before you leave home so you won’t waste time at security.

* Keep your foreign currency easily accessible, and remember to take something to put your home country currency in (again ziplock bag or an envelope works well).

* Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on, to ease your passage through security;

* Take some snacks, dried fruit, cereal bars etc for the flight, just in case you get hungry.

* Have your headphones in your carry-on luggage as some airlines charge for these, while others provide them for free;

* In your carry-on luggage have a pen easily accessible, along with your passport and address of your hotel – you’ll need these to complete immigration form. Do it on the plane, don’t wait until you get to the arrivals hall;

* Set watch/phone/clock to destination time the moment you get on the plane.

* Move to new time zone and don’t keep saying it’s x (where x is the time zone you’ve come from) time for my body clock.

 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate while flying, and try to avoid alcohol. Remember to take an empty water bottle in your hand luggage, and fill it up in the departure lounge.

 

 

Happy flying & remember the secret to successful flying is to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol & mentally move into the time zone of your destination.

Reflections on 2013

I knew 2013 wouldn’t be a quiet year and it’s certainly had its highs and lows. I’ve built on my learnings from 2012 but sadly have failed to make many blog posts – maybe I can correct that in 2014.

The key thing I’ve learnt is believe in yourself and remember there’s a wonderful support net of friends who are there whatever happens and can offer the right advice at the right time to point you in the right direction.

Key high points for this year have been:

- Spending time with family and friends in the USA and closer to home in the UK;

- SLA President-Elect travels, the highlight being my visit to Minneapolis in August to celebrate SLA Minnesota chapter’s 60th anniversary;

- rediscovering the joys of public speaking: tally for the year is 13 in person events and four virtual events;

- finding a new paid job (which I officially start today);

- completing 2.5km Swimathon

So my learnings from this year, all of which will help me cope with challenges of 2014, are:

- practice makes perfect, accept every opportunity to gain public speaking experience, it does get easier the more times you do it. Public speaking virtually and in person requires different approaches and preparation. It’s vital to remember to speak slowly and in an engaging tone when delivering virtual talks as the audience can’t see you and are unable to rely on body language signals.

- organisation is a vital skill to keep on top of commitments and maintain a record of achievements. I’ve found using online tools helpful this year, in particular Evernote to jot down thoughts and keep a record of reflections month by month.

- maintaining a work life balance by finding the time to get together regularly with friends and family to relax and share memorable experiences.

Secrets of successful volunteer recruitment

In February at SLA’s Leadership Summit I presented a session on getting people to volunteer for roles in the association. I initially focused on the results of a survey  SLA carried out last year which asked seven questions about what motivates people to volunteer; how often they did and didn’t volunteer with SLA; what were the benefits of volunteering and what more SLA could learn. The results make interesting reading and should prove useful for leaders trying to fill roles with volunteers. Key take-aways are:

  • make it easy to volunteer and use the personal touch of individual invitation to have most impact;
  • volunteers want a clear goal, clear directions, clear feedback and support to accomplish what they are working on;
  • break down roles to create opportunities that require short time commitment, you’re more likely to get people to agree to these and to return in the future to help;
  • recognise and thank all of those who have contributed in as many ways as possible.

For the second part of the session  I asked delegates to spend some time discussing how to encourage people to become volunteers and tactics to get people to say ‘yes’ to volunteering opportunities. I’ve summarised the tips and hints, many thanks to those who shared them, as I think they’ll be useful to a wider audience.

624339_hands in supportEncouraging people to volunteer

Communicate options often: set up a volunteer committee; include ‘can we contact you about                 volunteering’ box on all your forms, invites, surveys; advertise vacancies on your website (have a ‘Get Involved’ section), social media and at events (dine-arounds etc); try an annual open invite to members to learn more about opportunities to volunteer; divide up roles into small tasks.

Get to know your members: reach out to all members at events, online and by phone; get to know people so you can personally invite them to contribute; keep a ‘job jar’ in your head and give a job to people who show interest; focus on planting seeds rather than the immediate ROI.

Highlight mentoring benefits: mentor new volunteers into a role; help people train their successors for specific role in the unit; mix ‘old timers’ with new people.

Cultivate students and new professionals: encourage involvement with local schools and student groups bring them into meetings offering mentoring and job hunting courses; offer opportunity to run registration table at events as this is a great way to informally meet lots of people.

Emphasise importance of getting involved in your professional association: as members you can influence the association’s direction, but you need to get involved in it; SLA is a safe place to learn and try things.

Show appreciation, recognition and thanks for service/participation: hand written thank you notes; recognition at volunteer receptions; put up pictures of events on social media to generate interest and recognise members for their contribution.

Tactics and tips

Asking members to volunteer: sell the benefits of involvement as additions to their CVs/resumes; word the request for participation as an engaging question; if you make a phone request follow it up with an email if they need to think it over; adopt a salesman approach ask them what would it take to say ‘yes'; notice things about people and look for promise indicate this in your request: ‘I think you’d be good at this because you’re good at …’.

Admin and planning: keep a record of attendees at events and target regulars to see if they want to be more involved; make sure you respond to those who express an interest; appreciate and keep track of those who say ‘no’ to a request, keep the door open for next time.

If all else fails bribe them with food and drink. It worked for me and it’s amazing what a room full of people will discuss if placated by Cadbury’s chocolate!

Remember it’s part of all leaders jobs to find and nurture the new leaders which allows me to plug the webinar I’m leading on succession planning on 11 July at 2-3pm (EDT).

Hidden gems in London

Living and working in London it’s easy to walk past an area or building and not realise its history or what it contains, and thus to miss a hidden gem. This realisation came to me recently after undertaking a walking tour of Waterloo Station and its environs (Behind the termini: wonderful Waterloo) and listening to a talk on The Society Of Friends library and archive collection.

I’ve commuted daily in and out of Waterloo for some 20 years now, but I wasn’t  aware there had been seven stations there at one time, and one of them was the Station of the Dead. I also didn’t know that under the tracks on Leake Street is a public graffiti tunnel initially created during the ‘Cans Festival’ organised by Banksy in May 2008. I’m looking forward to doing some of the other behind the termini tours in this programme, led by Rachel Kolsky, to learn more about our major London stations.

Gresham College is running a series of lectures entitled ‘Special Collections’ focussing on some of the hidden gems of interesting and unique collections in London. The series covers eight very different collections ranging from Lambeth Palace’s library to the collection of anatomy at St Bartholomew’s hospital. All the lectures are free to attend, and the college makes transcripts and recordings of the talks available on their website. Here’s a list of the collections covered in this series:
    Anatomy Museums (September 2012)

    The Guildhall Library (October 2012)

    British Architectural Library, RIBA (November 2012)

    The Library and Archives of the Society of Friends (January 2013)

    New Scotland Yard Crime Museum (April 2013)

    Lambeth Palace (March 2013)

    The Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library (May 2013)

    St. Paul’s Cathedral (June 2013)

David Blake, Head of Libraries and Archives at The Society of Friends, gave an interesting and engaging talk on the history of the Quakers and illustrated it with materials held by the Library. I was impressed the Library was founded in August 1673 and that early on it was decided that it should acquire two copies of everything written by Quakers; plus one copy of everything written in opposition to them, the ‘adverse collection’. In the early 1700s the Society was thinking about disaster planning with the purchase of bags to carry materials out of the building in case of fire. Further inventiveness was displayed by the provision of a card catalogue on wheels which could be put away in the strongroom overnight as until 1926 there was no permanent reading room at the Society. This all changed in 1926 with the move to Friends House, opposite Euston Station where the Library is now. Amongst the hidden gems in the collection are the Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded in 1947 and the Winchester Whisperer, a clandestine newsletter produced by conscientious objectors in Winchester Prison, written on toilet paper.

Getting ready for conference…..

SLA2013_Generic_300x250

How time flies it’s nearly SLA annual conference time again, it feels like just a few months ago I was preparing to go to Chicago. Two things last week prompted me to get my conference head on:  the announcement of SLA Europe’s ECCAs and discussions with colleagues about the Fellows and First Timers Meet on 8 June. So I’ve spent the weekend pulling my schedule together, and updating my tips and hints for attendees.  I can’t claim to have thought of all these things myself and I’m still picking up tips each time I go to conference. I’ve listed some helpful references at the end for those who want to read more widely.

Packing: bring comfortable shoes – you will be doing lots of walking around large convention centres and hotels as well as exploring the host city. Bring clothes that allow you to dress in layers – it’ll be hot outside, cool and or cold, in the air conditioned convention centre.

Leads, chargers and batteries – vital if you rely on your smartphone, tablet or laptop for keeping in touch or making notes. Plus don’t forget an adaptor plug if you’re travelling from outside North America.

1081068_business_cardBring plenty of business cards (if you don’t have work cards, or are between jobs, get some printed up) make sure you include your contact information: LinkedIn profile, preferred email address, blog address etc. Give them to anyone you’re introduced to. As soon as you meet someone and get their card, make a note about where you met them and what you talked about on the reverse of their card. It’ll make it easier for you when sending follow up emails when you get home.

Pre-conference networking – use social media to get in contact with other attendees and to plan your schedule. Check and see if your division offers any mentor/buddy system, if they don’t email and ask if you could set up an informal mentoring scheme.

Plan your schedule use the online planner to set up your schedule either online, or in Outlook. Choose all sessions that interest you and don’t feel you have to attend only those that your chosen division(s) run. For each session have a plan B, C and D in case there are no seats left when you get there, or you decide it isn’t what you thought it would be so you walk out early. Plan B, C and D can include visiting exhibition hall, taking a break, getting something to eat or going to another session.

Be aware of session etiquette – it is ok to walk in late or to leave early from a session (so non-North Americans take note this is ok).

Visit exhibit hall – plan to visit several times and take note of how to get the best from vendor interactions from Sara Batts and Liz Blankson-Hemans

Badges and ribbons – you’ll get a name badge when you register which you can either pin on or clip to a lanyard. Whatever Photo Kate SLA conference badge 2012you do make sure your name is easily visible, and if you use a lanyard a good tip is to write your name on the back of your badge as it will inevitably twist around and display the blank side (thank @bethanar for this tip). You’ll find there’s space for ribbons on your name badge, so take advantage of any that apply to you and get them from the Information Booth. If you’re a first-timer make sure you pick a ribbon up, it’ll be a great ice breaker.

Plan your introductions – you’ll be meeting a lot of people and will need a succinct and memorable way to describe yourself and what you do. You’ll be more confident if you’ve prepared your answers to questions such as where you work, what you do and what you’re aiming to get out of conference.

Plan breaks and pace yourself – days are long and busy, from breakfast meetings at 7:30am to parties that go on until after midnight. You need to remember to pace yourself, take a few breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block.

Have fun – above all else enjoy yourself, immersing yourself in a wonderful bubble atmosphere where you’ll meet some great people, learn a lot and hone your networking skills.

Want to read more ….

Over the years many people have shared tips and hints on attending SLA conferences. To list them all would take a lot of space. So here are a few worth looking at: Stephen Abram in 2006; SLA tips on conference success; SLA on using social media to enhance your conference experience. Plus take a look at the blogroll from 2012 conference.

Here are some hints and tips from other conference goers:

Free Range Librarian’s experience of survival tips for ALA conferences.

iLibrarian’s  top 20 tips for surviving library conferences.

 

2012 in review

2012 has been an incredible year in so many ways from a personal perspective: my mother died; I was made redundant; got a new job; got elected as SLA President-Elect 1013 and supervised a house build in Cornwall. So a busy time for me personally, not to mention all things happening elsewhere in the UK: the Olympics, Queen’s Jubilee and SLA Europe’s 40th anniversary.

Thank you to all those who have supported me during the last year. It’s been gratifying to know there are so many different communities out there to provide me with support, love and encouragement. It’s been an emotional time during which I’ve learnt a lot including:

- when I put my mind to it I can write. As the smattering of blog posts, tweets, tributes and campaign speeches reveal. keep an eye out for more in 2013.

- public speaking virtually isn’t as scary as I thought. Careful preparation and practice can make for successful webinars and Skype presentations and show there really isn’t too much difference to face to face presentations. Except of course what you wear, webinars at midnight can be done in your pyjamas!

- challenges make you stronger, and show you how resourceful you really can be, whether it’s finding a new job or campagning I’ve dealt with an array of challenges.

Finally, WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog and here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

It’s helpful to know the first timers tips for conference was the most popular post, I’ll be working with SLA colleagues to ensure these tips are shared with first timers this year.

Click here to see the complete report.

Challenges and opportunities of working globally

Increasingly we’re all working and thinking more internationally, a recent example of this for me was the UK interest in the recent US elections. I can remember a time when I was considered odd for wanting to sit up all night to watch the results on TV, but then being half American meant I had a personal interest in the result. How things have changed thanks to technology in the form of internet and Twitter.

There are obvious challenges and opportunities that working globally presents from cultural issues to time zone nightmares. I’m speaking, via Skype, to the SLA Silicon Valley chapter later this week about ‘What being international means for SLA and our members’. I covered some of what I’ll be talking about in one of my responses to the board candidates’ questions  posted on SLA’s Blog earlier this summer. I have plenty of personal experience of working globally from my time at BBC, and learnt a lot about different cultures when answering questions from World Service staff. But that was nine years ago so may be dated. To ensure I’m as balanced and inclusive as possible I’d like to hear from others about what they see as the:

  • challenges of working internationally;
  • benefits of working internationally;
  • opportunities of working internationally.

And I’d be interested to hear responses from those working in a global company or being part of a professional association.

Please post responses on this blog, or via Twitter (@katefromuk) or  email (katearnold64@yahoo.co.uk).



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