Wow! I literally cannot believe that I haven’t written a post since November. That is completely shameful.
The reason I have resurrected the blog is twofold, really, in that:
- I have started (I mean really started this time) my Chartership, and I would like to use this blog as my way of recording and reflecting.
- There are many, many things that have been going on in the library world which have stressed me off and I need a platform to moan away on. This is my home here – I feel safe to rant!
So, first things first, Chartership. I put off starting for many reasons – firstly because I was mentor-less, and then became mojo-less and, more recently, time starved. I was so overwhelmed by everything, not necessarily because I think the development journey will be tough, but mainly because I didn’t know where to start. I don’t want to start off by critiquing CILIP (that’s a total lie, I am) but I didn’t find the start-off process particularly user friendly. For an organisation that purports to assist the information sector it was, er, pretty hard to find information. Finding a mentor seems to be like looking inside a crystal ball and hoping to pull someone out. A list of potential victims was provided, and I spent rather a long time pouring over the (really, not that detailed) descriptions of possible mentors. It was like being on Take Me Out. I started cutting down potential mentor-suitors using a ridiculously haphazard method of elimination: too far away, job too obscure, job too similar, scary sounding job title… Then I picked a few and I sent them a, frankly, fantastic email saying how enthusiastic/great/sexy I am. Well – no-one replied. I felt rejected. I felt like the last fat girl left at the prom. It was horrible. So I did what any spurned lover does – I took to Twitter to publicly air my dirty laundry to everyone and, thankfully, a schoolmate who is now also a librarian took pity on me and hooked a lady up with a mentor. That’s enough relationship allusions now – I think this may be weird for her otherwise!
The next step was to try and smash down the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) into a more manageable chunk of about 6-10 sections. My mentor sent me this blog post which I found very useful to make sense of the whole sorry affair. The first time I looked at the PKSB I could’ve cried – there was so, so much on it that I didn’t know, or stuff I thought I knew about but when I really thought about it I probably didn’t. Anyway, the blog post was really good for giving me a strategy to begin from. I printed off some job descriptions for my current post, as well as some higher level university based roles, and I tried to match everything which was asked for in the person specification with sections of the PKSB. This could prove pretty tough at times because of the wording but I managed to get an idea of what kinds of things were most important. I then went through and graded myself against every section with my current score and what my ideal score would be. I then used a combination of this, the weighted job description sheet and my own personal wants to come up with a set of eight areas to work on:
- Collection development policy (7.2) – not something that was required particularly in any of the JDs I looked at, however this is something I would like to develop at work so I have included it for this reason.
- Reading literacy and Reader Development (8.2) – this is something that is important in my current role and I would like to develop this in a more structured way. It’s also something that I am particularly passionate about.
- Advocacy (9.3) – I can hardly sit and complain about the state of libraries if I don’t do something about it myself! This is so, so important in the current climate to ensure we have a profession left to work in!
- Customer service skills (11.5) – An essential aspect on all the JDs – something I need to revisit to ensure that my skills are up-to-date
- ICT skills (12.1) – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the absolute necessity that excellent ICT skills are required in the LIS profession, perhaps even all professions.
- Language skills (12.8) – Learning French is something I would like to personally work towards as I think it would be beneficial when assisting students in my workplace who are new to the UK. I have a GCSE in French and know the basics but I would love to improve my conversational French, as well as my reading skills.
- People management (10.8) – Many of the jobs I envisage myself developing into in the future require some level of previous experience in people management. This isn’t something I am easily able to develop as I am a lone worker, but I do have student volunteers who assist me and I would like to be able to support them more fully and develop their skills, as this will be of great advantage to them when going into the world of work.
- Networking skills (12.6) – Working alone can be a bit, well, lonely and it can be hard to keep afloat of all the current changes and opportunities. Good networking can help to minimise these issues.
So, I guess the next steps are to start working out how I am going to improve in each area and to start evidencing it all! I have a few things that I have already got planned in so it’s a case of actually getting down to it all now! I do, at least, now have a framework to work towards. The only thing I do think is that it would be good to know more exactly what the specific differences between, for example, a 2 and a 3 are on the PKSB. I know it is a self assessment but it would be useful to have a matrix, kind of like when you are writing an essay to be marked, that you can benchmark yourself against. Anyway, I guess I will have to trust my own judgement!