Guest Post: Turning New Professionals “upside-down”

Sebastian Wilke & Dierk Eichel from IFLA’s New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) have kindly shared their post about the workshop NPSIG ran at the 2013 Bobcatsss event in January 2013. Bobcatsss is an annual symposium with library and information themes, organised by university students under the auspices of the European Association for Library & Information Education and Research (EUCLID). If you’d like to see some of the other things that went on at Bobcatsss 2013, check out this Storify. Here it is in Sebastian & Dierk’s words:


New Professionals from all over the world drawn together to share their latest research and projects, discussing trends in Library and Information Science and enjoying three days of networking and fun. This can only mean one thing: We are at Bobcatsss once again! This year, the symposium by New Professionals for New Professionals extended its usual boundaries taking its participants to Asia Minor. Ankara with its islamic culture added some oriental touch to the Bobcatsss experience. The conference program, too, broke new ground by introducing the pecha-kucha format and expanding the range of workshops. NPSIG crossed the Bosphorus to continue its series of Bobcatsss workshops, starting in Italy four years ago, with stopovers in Hungary and The Netherlands.

20 participants

…with various backgrounds got involved in our workshop “Tailor-made and weather-proof – Building and maintaining New Professionals groups as an important part of early career development”. Teased by two short presentations, they got to think about this topic from specific points of view in the interactive part of the workshop session.

workshop participants
NPSIG workshop participants

2 theses

…laid the ground from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. They had been finished recently and were related to the topic of the workshop. NPSIG activist Veronica Angell Bergli skyped in from Norway to introduce network theories such as Six Degrees of Separation and Communities of Practice and to explain the requirements of a well-functioning network.

NPSIG Convenor Sebastian Wilke outlined the many different forms of initiatives by new librarians around the world and explored four key dimensions in the existence of a New Professionals group: the level of structure, the effects of online and on-site, the direction of activities and, ultimately, short-term activism versus long-term goals.

See the presentation slides for more details:

1 question

…was asked to the workshop participants: “How might you design communication in a national New Professionals group?”. Based on the input of the two theses, their personal experience and driven by group dynamics, they developed various answers.

3 methods

…of brainstorming were applied to ensure a wide range of answers and encourage the participants to think out of the box. Besides the usual goal of brainstorming the ideal solution, we added a negative and a crazy approach. By turning the question upside down, the negative approach provides an unusual view on the question and helps getting focussed on what you really want. On the other hand, the crazy approach creates ideas without limits and lets you overcome the boundaries of reality.

brainstorming: ideal, negative, crazy

5 results

…  were produced with the 3 methods by 5 different groups of 3 to 5 people. Each group had 15 min time to work together on a solution and present that to the other groups in 1 min short presentations (click on the group pictures to see the recorded presentations on youtube).

presentation group 4
presentation group 4
group 4
results group 4
presentation group 2
presentation group 2
group 2
results group 2

presentation group 3

group 3
results group 3
presentation group 1
presentation group 1
group 1
results group 1
presentation group 5
presentation group 5
group 5
results group 5

2 conclusions

… were drawn at the end of the workshop that reflected the results of all groups despite their different brainstorming approaches: We need both online and on-site engagement with each other to make communication work. Also, New Professionals rely on the support by their profession – a good atmosphere in general and time / permission by the employer in particular – to make things happen.


…will be the number of the next Bobcatsss symposium in Barcelona in January 2014. We are already looking forward to this!

further resources: workshop abstract | youtube playlist | facebook photo album | pinterest board


© Dierk Eichel, Sebastian Wilke

We’d love it if you could tag any discussions on twitter about this or any of our posts with #interlibnet so that we can follow and join in the conversation.

Posted in Pilot Program and tagged , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: Turning New Professionals "ups...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *