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Student Team attendance at Together

12 Jul 2022

Reflections on the first Library staff conference

As a relatively new member of the Student Team, the ‘Together’ conference was a great way to find out more about the Library and meet some new people. I really enjoyed hearing about all the different things that are going on within the Library and felt like I learnt so much throughout the day! The lightning talks in particular showed how varied the work that takes place within the Library is, but also how innovative and creative it is which was really inspiring. More generally, it was lovely to be made to feel a part of the Library and not just a student, and everyone that I spoke to was so friendly and made myself and the other Student Team members feel really welcome. 

When attending the breakout sessions throughout the day, it was great to feel like myself and fellow Student Team members were making useful contributions to the discussions by being able to offer our thoughts from the student perspective. Everyone who we attended these sessions with not only made us feel comfortable so that we were confident to offer our thoughts, but also made us feel like our comments were valued and helpful. 

The ‘Game of Life: Students, Class and the Library’ session was a highlight for me as it allowed me to think about the issues I had and things that I had struggled with when I was first starting out in my undergraduate degree. It felt great to then be able to make suggestions about what I might have found helpful or what would have made the start of my university experience a bit easier. It was really valuable to think that the comments I made might make a small contribution to improving the experience of future students who found themselves in a similar position or who were feeling the same way as I did. Being able to pass on some of my experiences and things I have found helpful to fellow students is one of my favourite things about being a part of the student team, so it was great to have another opportunity to try and use my reflections on my experiences to make things easier for others!

It was great to see that people were interested in finding out more about the work that the Student Team get up to by attending the ‘Teaming Up With The Student Voice’ session and also that there was interest in the Student Team helping out in more areas across the Library. At first, I was not going to take part in the session as I struggle with speaking in front of people but thanks to the encouragement of the rest of the team I did actually say a few sentences about what I have got out of my first few months in the role. Even though I was so nervous and only made a small contribution to the presentation, it felt like quite a big achievement to speak in front of people for the first time in years! It also gave me some confidence that this is something that I could work on becoming more comfortable with, which I don’t think would have happened if it wasn’t for my student team role. This is an example of how even in the few months since I’ve started, being a part of the student team has really helped my confidence and has also given me opportunities to develop skills that will help me academically. In this case, this experience boosted my confidence when applying for teaching experience next year as it showed me that I actually would be able to stand in front of people even if I found it scary at first.  

As a History student, I found Esme Ward’s speech particularly inspiring. I had already heard about some of the repatriation work that Esme was discussing so I was really interested to learn more about the next stages for this, but also found the juxtaposition between the discussion surrounding the ethics of this work and the development of the Egyptian mummies exhibition particularly thought-provoking. This talk left me wanting to explore the work of museums more closely as a consideration for my own future career, as well as generating further reflection on the ethics surrounding such work and on historical research more generally. I didn’t anticipate that I would leave the conference with a conviction to think more critically about my own research, but I think this is definitely a positive that came from it!

Another aspect of the day that was really beneficial for me personally was learning about the different types of work that take place in the Library and taking inspiration from the different lightning talks and breakout sessions when considering what I might want to do after my degree. The day as a whole really opened my eyes to different types of roles that I didn’t really have any knowledge of before, and also reassured me that there are so many exciting possibilities I could go into that could utilise my degree without having a traditional academic career if I decide that isn’t for me. 

Overall, the ‘Together’ conference was a really enjoyable day! Even though I learnt a lot and took a lot from it personally, the stand-out of the day was how nice it was to meet so many friendly people and also get to know some of my fellow student team members a bit better. There was such a welcoming and friendly atmosphere throughout the day that made me feel comfortable to get involved, which then allowed me to gain so much from the experience. I know that myself and the other student team members who attended had a great time and really enjoyed the day and hopefully we’ll be able to attend another Library conference in the future!

Lily Pearson