The beginnings of Chartership

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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!
  4. 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 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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!




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