Networks – setting up
AS MENTIONED IN Tip 66 (p. 170), if a network which meets an identified need does not exist, either you or your team members can set one up. Many networks were created by groups who identified a gap and developed a network with the aim of addressing this. It is important that networks have a clear purpose, which can be derived from an ethos or a policy. It does not have to be static and may change over time but it is important that the purpose of the network remains clear, so that it remains organized. You may decide to set up a network with a view to developing yourself, your teams and others in the wider LKS with similar interests and ethos. Alternatively, you may be supporting individuals to set up their own networks. The following example from practice demonstrates some of the skills which setting up a network can develop.
Example from practice: Catherine McManamon – LKS professional (academic) and cofounder of the NLPN (New Library Professionals Network)
The NLPN (2012) was initially created to help fill a training-needs gap in the potentially stressful period between completing the Masters-level library qualification and securing the first professional library post. I was one of four students from the MMU MA Library and Information Management course in 2011/12 who felt that developing a professional network for our peers would help to strengthen our CPD and provide support in the areas where there were gaps in our knowledge and experience.
Planning the network's events has enabled all four of the network's organizers to develop our communication skills, our organization skills and our team work. It has given practical experience that we had not had before in our roles: securing funding, managing budgets, developing a brand and a social media presence, promoting NLPN, liaising with speakers and the members of our network. It had significantly enhanced our ability to be advocates for our profession and to recognize the importance of a community of practice beyond qualification and even the first professional post.
The network can be whatever is needed at that time, formal or informal, faceto- face or virtual or a combination of these. Some networks only exist for a short time, others may continue for a long time, and this will depend on the purpose of the network.