Gosh – I feel like I went away on holiday for one week, and I come back 4 things behind! Ah – I remember why. The last thing I read about was Thing 7 – face-to-face networks, and this is something we do lose out on whilst working internationally so I thought I’d delay having to write about it! Humph. There is an informal group of school librarians working in international schools in Thailand, and we meet a couple of times a year, which I find really valuable. However, many of them work in American schools with IB, where the job priorities in the library are very different – there is more of a focus on independent research training, and librarians are “teacher-librarians”. Now, in all honesty, I should look at them as people that I can learn from, and get skills from, but in all honesty, working in a school I spend all day working with people who have different priorities to me. I am (mostly) good about staying postive about it, but when I want to network with library colleagues, I want to get that warm glow of like-minded people! For me, that is one of the big benefits of face-to-face contact, and something that is much harder to get from interaction online.
In terms of the groups I’m part of, I am in CILIP (and several special interest groups), and I’m also a member of SLA, which I find incredibly useful – but I do miss the physical meet-ups that I was sometimes able to do as part of these back in the UK. With CILIP I found my chartership experience really useful in retrospect (thank you Ferelith Hordon!), if parts of it were annoying at the time. I also got to go on a few discounted CILIP courses – though I should have tried to go to some more of the free meet-ups. Outside of official training and official publications, I think the most useful thing from these groups is to get away from work colleagues whilst meeting other people who share many of your goals – a combination of getting away and getting together.
There is also another librarian group that is just starting to develop, which is the librarians from FOBISSEA schools (Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia). At the moment this is only a wiki-group, and the fact that many of us are a plane flight away does make the idea of a meet-up a little ambitious! However, I guess that’s no different from all the schools in the American Association of School Libraries..
Considering the value I’ve got from these groups in the past, I think my next step should be to think about how I could actively start supporting a group’s organisation, and maybe that could be the FOBISSEA librarian’s group mentioned above. This would be really good in terms of seeing things from the other side, and also to have a go at giving something back to where I’ve received benefit in the past. Maybe I should make it my aims to get involved with the online organisation of the FOBISSEA network this year. I’m just a bit worried that I’m going to come out of 23 Things with a few too many aims to be realistic!
PS Joeyanne Libraranne – I thought your reflective piece on what it means to be an introvert and how to deal with cocktail parties was absolutely great!