I have discussed the strength of the regional network I am part of, and the CPD events I attend through it elsewhere, so to ensure this post doesn’t hit Dostoyevsky levels I won’t really mention these.
I have never presented at a conference. The closest I have got is presenting at a study day for a regional ‘patch’ group here in the north-west. Being quite shy, presenting is probably my biggest weakness (followed by networking), so it was not something I was looking forward to greatly. Luckily I was not presenting alone, and my co-presenter is a very strong personality which took the pressure off. Until my confidence is improved, presenting is something I do not actively seek out. If anyone tells you it gets easier the more you do it, they’re lying! This is a pity as there a few topics (including more on the ‘Bolton’ model of partnership) that I feel I could discuss.
I do not attend many conferences. I attend study days, briefings and training seminars often hosted or subsided within the region, but I have only been to one conference in the past 5 years (a little bit more on that later). Why is this? Two reasons: 1) Time 2) Money. I do not have enough time to do all my job entails as it is – I do the work of 2 people at least – that is not a complaint, merely a fact. I have to carefully manage my time as it is quite precious, and to take days out is not a light consideration. I will be perfectly honest and say I suspect that people who attend a lot of conferences (and who do a lot of extracurricular activities especially during work time) are either very unchallenged at work or are not overly valued in their workplace. The cost of attendance is also far too prohibitive for it too be truly value for money. Sure there are hidden benefits such as networking opportunities, but even on the cheaper scale such as the New Professionals Conference – was that truly value for money? Umbrella, a larger conference cost anywhere from £215 to £420 before travel. I can’t afford that personally, and working for the NHS in 2011 – they won’t pay for it. I cannot justify that for something that whilst interesting, the information given out can be obtained and even some of the networking can be now be done by social networks. If I were to pay almost £500 for something that will look good on my CV, I would prefer a transferable skill. Even something close to home and very relevant such as the HLG held in Salford recently – the only opportunity to attend would have been a bursary. I do not feel I have missed out by not attending either of these conferences, which while naïve of me, also shows a diminishing importance in these events I feel.
My one conference I attended was the CDG New Professionals Conference 2011 held in Manchester on 20th June 2011. It was interesting in certain parts, the speakers were very good and nice to meet a lot of new people, I didn’t come away from there with ideas on how to meet either my needs or the needs of my users (#CPD23 aside of course). It felt like a productive day at library school (the few there were) more than anything else. I wrote a blog post about one of the most interesting things here which seemed to precipitate discussions on the topic (without wanting to restart the debate I found a lot of the opinions breathtakingly arrogant and ignorant on cliques – especially on the twitter #cliquegate in equal measure).
At this stage I would not like to organise a conference as I have seen close up the work that is required – even for a 1 day event! In the future – who knows.
I would like to attend the larger conferences – HLG, Umbrella at least once. However, I personally think the days of conference as they are may be numbered. Technology and finance disctate there are easier ways to share knowledge, information and to network. Having taken part in a couple of arranged twitter discussions (health information provision) these are immensely useful and can be done without leaving the fort unguarded so to speak. Though until CILIP can ‘wet it’s beak’ in such events I doubt we’ll see it.