Joint winner of the IFLA Professional Unit Communication Award 2016 – New Professionals Special Interest Group
The New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) were awarded joint-winners of the 2016 IFLA Professional Unit Communication Award at the Closing Ceremony of the WLIC 2016 for the following nomination.
The NPSIG is an open global network for library and information science (LIS) new professionals and supporters. As such, the communications aspect of the NPSIG is one of its main goals and strengths, which the leadership team continues to improve using creativity and innovation. The NPSIG deals with communications in a collaborative way because they acknowledge the benefits of taking advantage of their diverse skills, backgrounds, and time availability, to achieve the NPSIG goals. They believe that participatory and collaborative ways are inclusive and allow for all professional unit members to contribute and foster new ideas and point of views.
The NPSIG has developed, in its 12 years of existence, a robust infrastructure of tools, platforms and social media, that allows it to communicate with different audiences and, more importantly, to be connected. The NPSIG is especially interested in developing interactive communications with NPSIG activists and volunteers, because the NPSIG is by definition a "network", and an initiative for and by new professionals.
The NPSIG is connected and reaches out to the global library community regularly using mainly the following tools:
As well as other tools occasionally like: Eventbrite, Doodle, Storify, Slideshare, Pinterest, about.me, Slack, Flickr, Tumblr, among others.
Since August 2015, the NPSIG has a new leadership team, including a Convenor Maria Violeta Bertolini (from Argentina, living in USA), Co-Convenor Milan Vasiljevic (from Serbia, living in Qatar), Information Coordinator Antoine Torrens (France), and Information Co-Coordinator Katia Shklyar (from Russia, living in Finland).
During the 12 months since the previous IFLA World Library and Information Congress the NPSIG demonstrated the following:
- Effective communication about one activity or all the activities of an IFLA Professional Unit: The NPSIG is Co-Coordinator of the IFLA/ALA New Librarians, Global Connection Webinar Series with the CPDWL Section. On June 15th, 2016 took place the first webinar fully organized by the new leadership team. The webinar topic was “Big Data: new roles and opportunities for new librarians” and featured President Elect Glòria Pérez-Salmerón as keynote speaker. The NPSIG managed communications very effectively to disseminate the event. The communications strategy included: creating a new event page in IFLA website, creating a blog post in NPSIG Blog, creating an event in Facebook and disseminating with Facebook followers, publishing tweets about the event that were retweeted by IFLA/ALA community and many non-IFLA related people interested in Big Data (hashtags were #BigData #newlibgc #newlibrarians), and disseminating in mailing lists (IFLA-L, IFLA-LAC, NPDG-L, IWETEL, etc.). The webinar was a complete success. The webinar reached the top capacity of Adobe Connect (more than 100 attendees) after 10 minutes of starting, and it lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes with 70% of attendees still connected at the end (even with time differences there were attendees from all continents). After the event the NPSIG continued to receive emails asking for more information, including links and presentations. The NPSIG published the link to the recording and the presentation slides in the NPSIG Blog and IFLA website just 4 days after the webinar, and disseminated the links via Facebook, Twitter and mailing lists. This is a good example of the way the NPSIG manages its communications: using a variety of platforms, partnering, making the most with what it has, using free tools, and making an effort to reach all audiences.
Improved communication between members of the IFLA community on the areas of their specialism: The NPSIG is a transversal group and community because it brings together librarians and information professionals working in many different topics and types of libraries, but that are either new professionals, or that are interested in supporting new professionals. Two of the objectives of the NPSIG are:
- Empowering new professionals to be involved in their national associations and with IFLA to become new local and international leaders; and
- Connecting new professionals and new professionals supporters to share experiences, opportunities and make new friends and colleagues from all over the world, mainly through social media and online events.
In this sense, the NPSIG is organizing since August 2015 two major events: the IFLAcamp4, a two-day satellite meeting in the mode of a library unconference that provides plenty of space for ad-hoc sessions and group discussions. The participant-driven approach allows for active involvement of all attendees and including all kinds of topics of interest. Also, the NPSIG has set the date for a new type of event during the WLIC conference: the New Professionals Happy Hour, the event will count with the participation of the IFLA President Elect Glòria Pérez-Salmerón and Loida Garcia-Febo, Member of the Governing Board, and will be a unique opportunity to get IFLA Leadership and new professionals together in a social environment.
- Innovative ways of reaching out beyond the IFLA community: As Co-Coordinator of the IFLA/ALA "New Librarians, Global Connection Webinar Series", the NPSIG launched with the Webinar Series Coordinator Loida Garcia-Febo in October 2015 a call to propose new topics for the 2016 webinars. For the first time, the call was launched using Doodle, which was very effective to allow participants to vote, propose topics and make comments. 30 answers were received from all over the world, and the 4 most voted topics were: Big Data, Information Literacy, Partnerships and Public Policy. The first webinar in 2016 was about Big Data following the results of this poll. In addition, the NPSIG is planning the Open Session in WLIC 2016, and in shaping the content of the session, the NPSIG has launched a Call for feedback, to invite librarians from all over the world to share one or two experiences of professional failure and what they have learned about it. This call is available in 5 languages until now: French, English, Spanish, German, and Russian. The results will be shared in a dynamic way during the Open Session at the IFLA Congress. Also, the NPSIG launched a call for volunteers in March 2016, inviting new professionals and supporters to actively participate of the work of the NPSIG. The call includes a survey to build a volunteers database including skills they want to develop, main interests, and time available, in order to make sure the contribution is productive and beneficial for the volunteers, as well as for the NPSIG. The NPSIG has opened its wordpress blog to include publications by librarians from all over the globe, IFLA members and non-members. The blog has a great reach and it is open for anyone to read. Therefore, it is read by those beyond the IFLA community. Recent topics include posts about ALA’s youngest President ever, using platforms like TEDx to provide services, IFLA organizational map, and news about IFLA.
- Improvements to the way in which the Standing Committee or other organizing committee members communicate: The NPSIG leadership team has established since the first day a Whatsapp group, where the members discuss tasks, make decisions, send reminders and news. This is a great way to overcome the difficulties of living in different time zones, and to get things done. In addition, the NPSIG uses Google Hangout for leadership team meetings, and shares notes of the meetings with the network of activists through the NPSIG Wiki. The NPSIG uses also Google Drive very intensively to collaborate in Word and Excel documents. These documents are shared with or created by the NSIG Gmail account which ensures continuity and access to information during leadership transitions.
- Employment of a communication strategy that utilizes the functionality of the IFLA web site and the tools and new technologies available, or demonstrates improvements to previous methods of communicating: The NPSIG is currently developing a Social Media Strategy, as it was one of the 5 objectives of the NPSIG Action Plan 2015-2016. This strategy will provide a clear structure to effectively work with NPSIG social media outlets, specifying main social media and dissemination channels used by NPSIG, schedule blog posts, and assign responsibilities. Also, the NPSIG hosts biannual Virtual Business Meetings, to discuss current projects and allow activists and volunteers to be informed and to contribute with the work of the NPSIG. These events are widely disseminated, using the IFLA website, NPSIG Blog, mailing lists, and social media. The group used to use Adobe Connect facilitated by a library association through a previous Convenor, but unfortunately this wasn't available after the leadership team changed. For this reason, the NPSIG evaluated different tools and decided to innovate using Google Hangout Air. This free tool is a version of Google Hangout, which allows hosting and broadcasting of live discussions to the world through the NPSIG YouTube channel and NPSIG Google+ Home page. Participants from all over the world can join using the chat or video, and right after the meeting, a video is available to disseminate. This is very useful for informing those who couldn't participate and it saves time for the team in having to create minutes. The tool was shared with IFLA HQ for other sections to use, and included in the Tips for communicating with your SC members or project group webpage. The team also offers an agenda using an Open Pad inviting participants to add new items or comments. Since August 2015, the NPSIG hosted two virtual business meetings in December 2015 and in April 2016.
- Improvements to the accessibility of information about IFLA or its Professional Units (taking account of, for example, multilingualism, inclusiveness, technology, aesthetics/attractiveness): The NPSIG, during one of its Virtual Business Meetings, made the decision to work in a multilingual way whenever it is possible. A good example of this policy was the dissemination of the Call for Papers for the NPSIG Open Session at IFLA WLIC 2016 "“Failing successfully in a librarian’s career: is a setback an opportunity to grow, or just an unwelcome incident on the road to success?". To ensure a more broader participation on this very thought provoking topic, the NPSIG published the call for papers in the WLIC 2016 website, the IFLA website and the NPSIG Blog in 9 languages: French, English, Spanish, Russian, Finnish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, and Persian. The leadership team and volunteers from all over the world contributed with translations and proofreading. This was a first step to involve new volunteers, and publishing announcements in many languages encourages volunteers and activists to share information more actively in their own country/community. As the valuable contribution of one of the NPSIG volunteers, a playlist in YouTube is being developed with a selection of videos about “failing successfully”, that will be played during the session and shared NPSIG platforms. This is a novel way for using videos in the context of the WLIC. Also, after August 2015, the new leadership team revamped and reorganized the NPSIG Wiki in PBWORKS, systematizing NPSIG procedures to ensure: effective management, compliance with IFLA procedures, and easier transitions between leaderships. This was one of the objectives of the NPSIG Action Plan 2015-2016 and the Wiki has become the primary repository for the NPSIG work and documentation. The membership increases regularly, with new volunteers and people interested that proactively subscribes. The goal is to have complete transparency of the work of the NPSIG, and to allow activists and volunteers to join. The NPSIG has also subscribed the MLAS Chair, the Division IV Chair and the IFLA Professional Support Officer to keep them informed.
- Successful advocacy materials: The NPSIG has created a promotional video about the work of the Group including testimonies from the current leadership team, as well as the previous Convenor 2010-2014, Sebastian Wilke, and the NPSIG Founder, Loida Garcia-Febo.
For all these reasons, the NPSIG is a deserving candidate of the IFLA Professional Unit Communication Award 2016. It is important to highlight that this would be absolutely considered a team award, attributable to the collaborative work of volunteers, activists, founder, and leadership teams.