Tuesday, 14 August 2012

#cpd23 Things 10,11+12

I am so far behind!  I blame everything but myself ;-)

So anyway, Thing 10 - Qualifications and the variety of routes into Librarianship.
As the cpd23 blog says, most people get a first degree in an unrelated subject and then carry on to do a Masters in Library and Information Studies after at least a year's work experience.  This is what I did, in fact when I did my first degree (in geology) I'd forgotten I wanted to be a Librarian!  When I decided I did, I thought I'd want to work in a science/museum library (ideally in the Natural History Museum) but to start myself off I volunteered in a public library during one summer.  Having enjoyed working on the Summer Reading Challenge so much I decided to change my path to public libraries and so applied for a real job in the library that I volunteered in, and a graduate trainee scheme at a neighbouring borough.  I was offered the real job the week before the interview for the trainee scheme and went for that because I liked the library.  In hindsight that may have been a mistake - a graduate trainee scheme would have given me experience in more aspects of the library than being an assistant did and would have helped me get further in public libraries after finishing my Masters.  As it was I had no management experience, just a qualification that seemed to mean nothing to the authorities I applied and I was stuck being an assistant for another 18months.  At that point I got so fed up with having to be a non-specialist - I wanted to be a children's librarian - that I decided to find a school library.  I guess that might not have happened if I had gone down the graduate trainee scheme route so, as my Mum always says, everything happens for a reason.  In the school that finally employed me (I had a lot of "you were great but there was someone with school library experience" type feedback) I started as a 'Library and Information Centre Assistant' - still didn't need my MA but I guess it helped get the job - but am now 'The Librarian', 5 long years after finishing the Masters.  As far as the school is concerned I needn't have bothered getting the MA but I know that a lot of schools do care and I have never regretted spending the time and money on it.
The next step is Chartership.  Now that I've been given a professional job title as well as professional qualifications I feel I'm ready and so have started the process; I wrote my PPDP just last week in fact.  Even if future employers aren't interested, although job ads often do mention it, I want to do it just to prove that I am continuing to develop and I am dedicated to Librarianship.  If I hadn't done a Masters, for time or money's sake, I could have gone down the Certification route to get to the stage at which I could Charter.  I think that probably requires a great deal more stamina and motivation than having the deadlines a Masters provided!
Thing 11 - Mentoring
I have only recently asked someone to be a formal mentor to help me through the Chartership process.  Looking through the lists of available mentors on the CILIP website I was really pleased to see an ex-member of the YLG London Committee for whom I have shed-loads of respect, and even more pleased when she said she'd love to mentor me!  We've had two meetings so far and she's given me some very helpful directions for getting as far as completing the PPDP and what to include in the portfolio.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to start without her.
Informally though, I would say I've had a couple of mentors throughout my career - the Manager of the branch library I worked in before and during my MA was an inspiration and my decision to leave and work elsewhere (even though it was still as an assistant) was partly down to the fact she handed in her notice and I couldn't face working there without her.  More recently, the Federation Librarian for my school (who has now gone back to her other library full time as the Federation ended) has been a great support.  With 40years of school librarianship behind her she was able to give me ideas, about how to manage a budget for example, something I've never had experience of before.  In September I'll be a solo-librarian and I am looking forward to the challenge, but I know I wouldn't be as good a school librarian if I'd started alone and I will keep in touch with her.  As the post says, the mentor and mentee should both get something out of the relationship.  I like to think I've given her some good ideas about how to enthuse teenagers and keep the library busy.
Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media
Haha, this one gives to a chance to use Thing 5, the reflective practice Thing that I put off for later and still haven't done...reflect on how you put the social into your social media use.  I probably err towards the lurker on SLN, but that is because I only comment when I feel I have something to say that is of use or interest!  I get the digest of messages and a large proportion of them are not useful (imho) and on occasion it feels more like a social network than a professional one.  I interact more on Twitter although I do push out/retweet information more often than I respond to it.  I think it is time constraints more than anything else, I often read something and think I should respond to it but by the time I get round to it it feels a bit too late.  I did manage to write a blog post about age banding on books when there was a bit of a furore about it, but again that's me just stating things and not commenting directly on other peoples' posts.  I should get out there a bit more, not only to let commentators know that their things are being read and found interesting, but also to become more widely known myself...I now have confidence that I am worth listening to occasionally, and so when I write something that I think is important it can reach more people.  I do stick to reading about school libraries, schools, public libraries and YA/childrens' publishing.  Not so much because it is the "comfort zone" of my own sector but because it is what I am most interested in, hence choosing this career, and time is money people!  Terribly insular I know but I don't and won't want to work in a legal library or medical library or manuscripts library etc so if I'm short of time then they're the articles I will skip.  I generally read everything in CILIP's Update, does that count?  As part of my CPD for the Chartership I intend to visit a few different types of library so hopefully that will spark an interest.
That will do for now, I'll catch up with 13-16 later!

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