Youth, energy and inspiration

Last week was quite busy and tiring – there were too many things going on at once at work, combined with (or causing?) a tendency for me to wake up at 4am and not get back to sleep. The most exhausting day and the most inspiring day was Tuesday, when I interviewed four candidates for a traineeship position.
It was exhausting as we had to fit four interviews into just over three hours and then sift through their responses for another hour or so to come up with a selection decision. It was inspiring to engage with the candidates and to be reminded again that the young have enormous energy and enthusiasm, not to mention intelligence and self-awareness. The example of these aspiring young professional librarians gave me a new impetus in my own work.
I could have happily offered the traineeship to (almost) any one of the candidates so the process was tinged with regret at those we had to say “no” to, and I sincerely hope they will find their way into the profession through another route before too long.
The traineeship is a newish scheme devised by the librarians’ professional association, CILIP, in conjunction with the skills development agency, PATH. Called ENCOMPASS, it is designed to “encourage members of the Black and minority ethnic communities to seek a library & information career”. The traineeship lasts three years and combines a work placement with a course of study and finally professional qualification as a librarian. It is a little challenging for all concerned: the trainee has to balance the needs of work and study and put in 100% effort to both, while the placement host (that’s me) has to accept that the trainee is not there just to work but to learn too, and the agency (PATH) have to make sure that all parties are happy.
Right now I can’t wait for our new trainee to start and I’m full of hope that we will have a very productive relationship, exchanging energy and experience.
Next week I will also start a relationship with another young professional, a candidate for CILIP chartership. All candidates are offered a mentor, an existing CILIP member, to help them get through the one-year chartership process. I am on the register of mentors, feeling it was a duty I shouldn’t shirk. When I was contacted again recently with a request to become someone’s mentor I must confess my first reaction was “oh dear”, but then I read the candidate’s CV and was inspired. Now, perhaps they are just very good at CV writing but I really got the impression that this was one talented and driven young librarian, and it would be a privilege to be part of their professional development.
Sometimes I look around the world of libraries and information and I wonder, in all honesty, what the future for my profession holds. Meeting people such as those I described here really helps me to have more confidence that there is going to be a positive future for this line of work.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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2 Responses to Youth, energy and inspiration

  1. Lou Woodley says:

    Nice post, Frank. I’ve also been doing similar things recently – both interviewing and agreeing to be a mentor – and it’s a great way to get a quick overview of the kind of things young(er) people are doing and worrying about.  There’s also something nice about being reminded that we were all at that stage once and that we must have made some progress to now be in a position to (hopefully) help!

  2. osanda cooray says:

    Nice Post……………….. Thanks for the great stuff ..

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