by Sam Wiggins, Europe Chapter, Legal Division
When I finished my library traineeship in a law firm at the end of August 2010, I thought that I had a good understanding of the skill set required to forge a career in the sector. I started my Masters qualification a month later, and continued to consciously think about the tasks required of a professional law librarian, and how best to learn about them during the year (MA qualifications in the UK are an intensive 12 months).
A little over 3 months in, I started to think more abstractly about the profession and its future; more specifically where new professionals fit into the picture. The world of the information professional is fast moving, and the tangible skills we possess need to be constantly updated, but it will be ideas that provide the means to stay ahead of users’ expectations. I fully appreciate that a solid skill set is a must; but it is the less tangible ideas that will shape how these are implemented in the future.
As a new professional I have less practical experience than most, and my perceptions of what the profession can offer to its users are still being formulated, but I do not look on this as a disadvantage. In fact, be prepared to challenge yourself whenever your perceptions of the profession become static, as it instantly stunts the opportunity for creativity, passion and the possibility of moving forward. Occasionally ideas can result in suggestions that may seem implausible at first, but often they can be implemented with a little time and thought. As a new professional, the challenge is to check this sense of aspiration against practicality, without diminishing these ideas. Aims will occasionally need to be scaled down to match solutions that can be realised, but those ideas can still be the start of something. It can be as small as questioning an established practice, or providing a sense of enthusiasm that filters throughout a team inspiring others.
When I enter my first professional post in September, I will lack the experience of other members of the team, but hope to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the table. Being Future Ready is therefore not only about the organisation itself but the people within it. And my suggestion as to what you can do to be future ready? Ask a young member of the team how they perceive issues. Encourage them to come out of their shell. The current crop of new professionals will become future leaders and managers; why not start to nurture them now, passing on that experience, blending it with the enthusiasm we have? Who knows, something magical might come out of that two way dialogue.
Samuel Wiggins is currently studying for his MA Librarianship at the University of Sheffield and upon graduation will take up the position of Information Officer for a London law firm. He can be found on Twitter (@LibWig)and writes a blog at libwig.wordpress.com.