It’s been a little over a year since I finally got chartered. The process for me was pretty long. I registered for Chartership way back in 2008, when I was still working as a law librarian (and getting my CILIP membership and registration fee paid for me by my employer). I started off quite dutifully reading the handbook, and got thoroughly confused by what should have been simple things like identifying my route (the, as I thought, standard one of get degree-do a year’s work-get library masters, which didn’t appear anywhere on the Framework), and finding a mentor. There was very little help available with choosing a mentor, and the mentor details on the website were not up to date, so it was impossible to tell who was free or not. I basically ground to a halt at this stage, as it all seemed too much work, and then I was busy changing jobs.
Once I had settled in to my new job, I decided to have another stab at getting chartered – partly because it was something I had asked about at my interview, and partly because it was a good objective to have. Also, my boss is a Chartership Mentor, and was very supportive of the idea. It was much easier the second time around. I was already registered, so didn’t have to worry about that part at all. I had no trouble finding a mentor, as one of my colleagues is a registered mentor, and she offered to take me on (my boss also offered, but I decided this would be potentially awkward). Getting a good mentor is very important. We agreed at the start how often we would meet, and what sort of encouragement I would need (lots!). I find that I work best with deadlines, and she provided them, by having regular meetings and targets. She gave me a lot of support and help throughout the process, nagging me when I needed it, and was generally wonderful.
One of the best things about doing chartership is getting to go on lots of training. My employers are very supportive of chartership candidates, and were happy to send me on various courses. I went on the CPD25 series of ten Professional Qualifications Support Workshops, covering things like copyright, marketing, and supervisory skills. These were very good (and I would definitely recommend them to anyone doing chartership). Some of the sessions were more useful than others, but they were valuable opportunities for meeting fellow chartership candidates. I also got to go on other training courses, visit a library in another sector, and shadow one of my colleagues. It was all very interesting.
I submitted my portfolio at Christmas 2010, and was not especially happy when I received a request for additional information. I hadn’t really expected this – and while it was nicer than being asked to resubmit the whole thing, it was a bit of a disappointment. I felt annoyed, and embarrassed for a little while. I was given 8 weeks to write 500 words of critical analysis on how the Library was meeting its mission statement. I left it for a couple of weeks, until I’d stopped stressing out about the whole thing. I also had a meeting with my mentor, and chatted to some colleagues about it, which all made me feel a lot better. Writing the 500 words didn’t actually take too long – the main problem I had with the whole submission of extra information thing was the lack of information about it. Other than what was in the email, and one article in an old copy of Impact, there was nothing. Not on the CILIP website, not in the LIS-CILIP-REG archive. I wanted information – and there wasn’t much to be had. There are examples on the CILIP website of portfolios, but none of additional information submissions. So I did my best, submitted my 500 words, and a short amount of time later (just 3 weeks) I had a lovely email from CILIP with those nice words “I am pleased to inform you…”. I was very happy, and dutifully printed off and filled in the registration form, before heading off to tell my mentor – who was just as pleased as I was. We went out for a celebratory drink, and had a great time not talking about chartership.
So – what does it feel like being chartered? Absolutely no different to not being chartered. Of course, it now all seems like a long time ago, but at first it was a great relief to not have to worry about doing my portfolio anymore, and a great relief that I didn’t have to resubmit. When I first considered getting chartered I will admit that I was greatly swayed by the fact that in the firm I was working in at the time I would have been paid a £1000 bonus for doing it, but I certainly didn’t get that from my current place of work. In fact the overall costs of chartership were higher than I had expected – £50 to register as a chartership candidate, £55 to submit my portfolio, then another £20 to be added to the register, plus the cost of getting two copies of the portfolio bound. But overall, I am glad that I did my chartership. It was the process that was important (everyone always tells you that, but it is true). I learned a lot – about my place of work, my profession, and myself, I met some lovely people, and I have a record of my achievements over that period of time. I am now waiting for CILIP to run a mentor training course in London, and then I will register as a mentor so I can help other people with their chartership.