Submitted by Nancy Bolt, Independent Librarians’ Exchange Chair

ILEX conducted its third successful pre-conference, Assembling a Consulting Toolkit:  What You Need to become a Successful Library Consultant, for 33 librarians interested in becoming consultants. The fourth and final preconference on consulting will be held in New Orleans. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn the basics of becoming a successful library consultant. Workshop content covers deciding what kind of consultant you want to be, marketing yourself as a consultant, the business of consulting, and responding to an RFP. Participants in this interactive workshop leave having made basic decisions about their consulting future. (See more on this pre-conference in the related article in this issue of Interface).

The excitement of the consulting workshop carried over to the ILEX Discussion Forum convened on Saturday January 8, 2011 at the ALA Midwinter Conference. The eleven people present included both veteran independent librarians and consultants and those who were just starting out. Many in attendance were “graduates” of the 2010 and 2011 Assembling a Consultant’s Toolkit workshops. The discussion ranged from a sharing of current projects to hints about practical hints on how to manage the work and run a business. It was quite helpful for attendees to ask questions and get practical real world advice. Topics ranged from accounting and business practices, to advertising, to staying in touch with library organizations and state libraries.

In addition, the ILEX board members present sought advice on how to effectively keep a helpful dialog going for those who are or are considering work as independent librarians and consultants. Having forums at both Midwinter and Annual Conference would be helpful because of the varied geographic locations and because many independent workers have to be selective of time taken for travel and conferences. The attendees, praised the Consultant’s Toolkit Workshop, but felt that other structured continuing education would not be as helpful as the ability to network and talk to other independent librarians. Those present also felt that there would be greater value in the face to face discussion forums at conferences than in more frequent online discussions. One reason identified was that those who work alone need to network and find others to talk to in real time.

The forum was an encouraging and lively session and people seemed to want the forums to continue. The next ILEX Discussion Forum is planned for the ALA Conference in New Orleans.  Check the ASCLA website for time and location.   Anyone interested in being notified of the Discussion Forum or other ILEX Activities can contact

Also planned for New Orleans is a program — Consulting from Both Sides of the Fence: Why Libraries Hire Consultants and How Consultants Get Jobs.  Speakers will be three expert consultants:  June Garcia, Bill Wilson, and Kimberly Bolan Cullin who will each bring one of their clients.  Nancy Bolt will moderate the discussion.  If you are a consultant or someone who hires consultants, you won’t want to miss this program.