David Clover: A Research Librarian does CPD23

my CPD23 blog


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Thing 11: Mentoring

Following on from Thing 10, where I mentioned mentoring for the CILIP CHartership scheme briefly… but first a little about more informal mentoring.

Two early mentors were one of my first bosses and a consultant who we worked with. Sandra was one of my first bosses in my first permanent post, post-qualification. As well as being my manager she acted as a mentor, encouraging me to take on new roles and projects and responding to my desire to do new and interesting things. She took an interest in my career and professional development as well as in my work-related roles. As an example of how these combined, one initiative I put forward was a service quality survey. I’d read of an initiative at the University of Melbourne using SERVQUAL as a basis (this was before the development of LIBQUAL) and expressed an interest in replicating and adapting this for our own organisation. A few months later I was offered a secondment to carry this our, to also develop a service charter (another idea I’d had) and to work on a interdisciplinary research project with one of our academic departments on an information literacy research project (using Delphi research techniques). It was a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and develop a sound basis of experience in two key areas that were at that time emerging in the field internationally, but have been key throughout my career since (service quality and information literacy). The secondment also provided the opportunity to write my first professional article (in New Zealand Libraries) and present at an international conference (the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)) in the US.

The consultant also acted as a mentor in a different way. I’d got to know her through work she did for our organisation, and helped out when she revisited an organisation I had previously carried out a short term contract for. She became someone I could talk to about jobs I was interested in and my future career (not always appropriate topics to discuss with your manager).

In the UK, I was less successful in finding a mentor figure until I embarked on Chartership. In thinking about a mentor I faced two choices about how I approached Chartership. I could have seen it as a bit of a process where all I had to do was tick boxes and do the minimum required (afterall I had lots of professional development and involvement so could have seen this as merely a chance to certify this); or I could make the most of the process to really interrogate myself about my development and future goals. I choose someone who was a Director of Library Services in a university and actively involved in CILIP, and someone I respected at a professional level after hearing her talk at a CPD25 management skills training session. The fact that at the time she wasn’t based in London didn’t worry me as I decided I was prepared to make the effort to travel (and as it was she was often in London and then changed jobs so we often did meet in London). Debby helped me though the Chartership process but as well as that proved to be an able and considered mentor more generally. The mentor relationship is one I especially valued and gained much from.

This relationship in part inspired me to register as a mentor for the CILIP Chartership scheme. I’ve hoped to pass on some at least of the experience I had. More informally I have acted as mentor for a number of new professionals who were graduate trainees or temporary workers at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in their early periods of study, job seeking and early careers. I hope I’ve made a difference for them too. More generally it is something I hope to continue to do both through the chartership scheme and also in my workplace and is something that I intend to discuss at a future management group meeting to explore whether we can do more to develop our staff. And maybe it is time for another mentor for me! Perhaps something to consider as I look towards Fellowship.


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Thing 10 – Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

My pathway into librarianship doesn’t go down the ‘usual’ (if it is in fact usual) UK route where the graduate trainee role remains important. At the Institute of Commonwealth Studies we did employ a graduate trainee each year, and were pleased to host some hard working, intelligent and committed early professionals about to embark on their careers. We made sure we provided a good training environment, working with the other libraries in the School of Advanced Study to devise a training programme, and ensuring the trainee had experience in a number of roles (including cataloguing, which has been a real benefit for a number of recent trainees).

New Zealand didn’t and doesn’t have graduate traineeships, though for many people a similar route of finishing a first degree, then taking on a library assistant role before entering ‘library school’ is the norm. This has changed a little since I qualified with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand offering a undergraduate degree route (one which I taught on a paper for many years ago). I had a slightly different route with some part time study and library experience consisting of evening work at the university Law Library for a few years (a job I got after working one summer for the Law Faculty) and a year’s project for a development charity organising their own collection of books, files and other resources.

I then attended the only postgraduate course, at Victoria University of Wellington. It was then a postgraduate diploma and a couple of years after we finished the school did replace this with an MA. While there was an opportunity to upgrade, I felt at the time the experience I had gained, which included a couple of research projects, meant that the time and expense of upgrading was of little value. The qualification in itself is only a foundation for further development, preparing you to enter the profession but only of value after you do a lot of on the job, and other learning and development. A year’s training in itself can only do so much, but yet it does provide a foundation for what follows.

I was pleased that my New Zealand qualification was recognised by CILIP (then LA) when I came to the UK, and the qualification and my experience stood me in good steed when applying for jobs here, I have since chartered but was a late convert to Chartership, largely because the scheme that was in pace when I came to the UK required reflection on one’s whole career up to Chartership (and as that included 7 years in NZ post qualification this seemed like an arduous task). My involvement in the CILIP then University College and Research Group especially at a national level (and cajoling from people like Liz Jolly and Jo Webb) led me to start the process of Chartership (with the support of a great mentor, Debby Shorley) and complete this, after which I registered as a mentor. I currently have three mentees, having just taken on a new one after my first candidate has submitted and will hopefully be considered and be granted Chartership in the next round of approvals. I’m also in the process of writing up my revalidation.

From an employer’s perspective and as someone who has often been involved with shortlisting, interviewing and selecting candidates for professional level jobs, it is usually common to ask for a qualification as a required or desireable criteria. We have less regard for where people have studied or the modules undertaken unless directly relevant to the post. Masters degree dissertations and often surprisingly esoteric… and while it is nice to see people pursue their own interests I occasionally wonder whether they have missed an opportunity to better place themselves in a tight job market with a more relevant topic (and please, some other methodology than a survey of library list subscribers!)

In itself we have never required chartership, BUT evidence of continuing professional development and of keeping up to date (especially considering how fast the external and technological environment changes) is essential. Chartership, from my own experience, helps with this and in providing a framework for professional development as opposed to merely job-related training. It really helps I think prepare people for the next job up, rather than just being better in their current job.

 


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CPD in your later career (the “Old” Professionals Network)

What does CPD mean, later on in your career?

So as background: I qualified in 1992 in New Zealand, worked there for 7 years in professional posts and then moved to London and carried on – mainly in academic libraries but with brief stints in a national libray, a public library, government, law and an international development NGO.

Is CPD different? As a late Chartership candidate, one thing I’ve noticed in comparison to those I mentor is that much of my CPD then was by doing rather than attending courses. Which isn’t to say that courses don’t have their use, but endorses the fact that much of what you learn is by doing, and by taking on new tasks, responsibilities and roles. My Revalidation was a chance to think about the next stage, and once I hand that in Fellowship the next goal (and one difference I perceive is I’m more likely to be presenting or organisaing a confernece than just going along and listening – though when I do the latter it is a nice place to be).

Obviously my career is still developing and changing. Some key things I have done which will be included in my revalidation submission have been attending the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s Future Leaders Project, and my study tour to the US via the CILIP/English Speaking Union Travelling Librarian Award. I spoke about both of these at a CDG confernce last year. Much of my focus has been in two directions – in subject specialism areas and in management and leadership, nicely reflecting my current role. In the future I see increased management roles as being where I’m heading. At the same time I’ve been keen to keep up with new and emerging technologies. While my systems librarian days are well behind me I feel a need to have a good overview of developments and to understand new tools.

In an environment where everything moves (and very quickly) and in a career where I want to keep moving too, continued CPD is essential and remains important.


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A delayed Thing 6 – Online Networks

Alas real life face to face professional development and networking took over my life (so more on this in the next post)

A quick reflection on online networks though. I liked the suggestion of three purposes and think these useful to evaluate online networking: becoming better known, becoming better connected, and becoming better equipped

LinkedIn: I’ve got a profile on and keep reasonably up-to-date. I could do more on my profile and add my CV etc, and use it to connect with people I have worked with, but in reality in academic libraries it is not a particularly useful site for finding jobs, etc though of course could come into its own if I one day decide to branch out into consulting and training (the far-off retirement plan). It is useful to have a passive presence there and I do increasing find myself checking people on LinkedIn to see current employer and contact details or previous work history.

Other people in other sectors make better and deeper use of LinkedIn but I’m happy with my relatively low key presence.

Facebook: Despite irritation at constant changes to Facebook’s interface and privacy settings, and increased annoyance at people sharing or liking pictures or trite sayings (if this is you I’m slowly converting you to most important status updates only) I like Facebook. But for me it is a personal networking tool, most useful in keeping in touch with friends overseas (though I find even in London it has a role in keeping in touch with people I see less of fce to face than I’d like). The personal aspect  is key though. Some professional contacts and colleagues I’d also count as friends so it isn’t as cut and dry as all that but I like the division and to be able to say things about my life (with carefully set privacy controls) that need not impact on my current or future employment.

LISNPN: I’m NOT a new professional. I’ve been around (even in the UK) for a while now and occupy a managerial position etc so LISNPN isn’t for me – though looking from the outside it looks like a great thing. I’d recommend it (but will leave the “young people” though of course not all young to their own network without oldies like me butting in).

Librarians as Teachers Network: Good to be reminded of this network, but again not a member and teaching only a small part of my role. It used to be a much bigger part and I’m still interested in issues about teaching, training and facilitating learning, but not enough to justify another network.

CILIP Communities: A great idea, but the wrong format at the wrong time. While I joined CILIP COmmunities I rarely checked in and I think CILIP Communities made the mistake (a common enough one at the time) of creating a new specialist social networking community when people were happy with what commercial providers were coming up with and found these easier to use. Many academic related social networks have had similar fates so no blame is due CILIP on this one, and I’m pleased to have heard rumourts that CILIP Communities is to be reviewed.

Google+:How can we miss Google+. I joined as a typical twitter induced early adopter but haven’t found I return to Google +. For all its qualities my networks were already on Facebook and Twitter and without the active community there was little reason to check in and update. It wasn’t helped perhaps by going on extended holiday soon after joining. Phil Bradley suggests Google+ deserves more use – if only because if I risk misquoting him – Google is so dominant in search and in adding the social to search. So I may come back to Google+ but will need something to convinve me.