Deciding to make a poster for It’s Great Up North was no quick decision. I sat on the idea for a week at least, ummed and ahhed about the pros and cons before going for it.

As a paraprofessional I had a bit of imposter syndrome putting a poster abstract together, especially as my poster wasn’t based on a library project I’d been part of. Luckily this was the hardest part of making the conference poster and it became easier after this. I’m now convinced there’s a potential conference poster topic out there for everyone. No matter how big or small, silly or serious, have you considered:

  1. Researching the tea and coffee preferences of your library users?
  2. Signposting to new web tools and apps you’ve found useful at work recently?
  3. Presenting your reflections from a recent training course on a poster?

I found the It’s Great Up North conference a really supportive environment. I felt particularly encouraged by their emails directly encouraging submissions by staff of all levels. I think this is why I chose this conference as the one to step outside my comfort zone for. I’m so glad I did it – not only was there a useful free webinar but all of you delegates were very welcoming.

Having a poster at a conference was a positive experience and acted as a useful conversation starter. It felt good to take part and helped me appreciate the hard work which others had put into their conference sessions and posters. The poster format can act like a useful temperature gauge too, to see how the rest of our Northern LKS bunch relate to different library topics.



If you’re considering making a poster in the future, I’d recommend a few things I did (or didn’t do!) to make your life a bit easier. Use Canva to make the poster and copy ideas from their CV templates, as a CV and conference poster present information in similar chunks. Take as much text off the poster as you dare, then take off a tiny bit more. Signpost to further info about your poster topic. Clarify printing options for the poster early and check with your library team about payment methods and printing deadlines.

My poster was about paraprofessionals and teaching. I had the idea for ‘Do library assistants teach when responding to enquiries? Pedagogy on the NHS library front desk’ from two things this winter. The excellent Customer Service Study Day and a university course I attended about teaching information literacy both shared a similar approach to supporting library users. Whilst lots of the readings on the university course were about classroom learning, this isn’t something I’m currently familiar with, and I wondered if any of the ideas could transfer to customer service work for paraprofessional staff.

Making a poster on this topic pushed me to think about it a bit deeper. It was a great way of channelling the thinking energy I’d discovered in the topic. If I’d kept this thinking to myself, or worse still, tried to discuss it with my non-library family, I probably would have bored everyone to sleep! If you have an interesting idea, for your family’s sake if nothing else, why not consider making a poster about it.


Katie Smith
Library Campaigns & Administration Officer
Library & Health Promotion Resources
Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust