Chartership – the end and after

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.

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Customer Care

Last week I attended the CPD25 course on Customer Care. I must admit that my expectations were low, as a colleague who attended these sessions last year had told me that this was the course she got the least out of. However, I tried to keep an open mind.

The session started off ok. I got there about half an hour early and the room hadn’t been unlocked yet – I got the chance to chat with some people who I hadn’t spoken to before – and the course leader introduced herself. I then got co-opted into helping rearrange the tables and chairs when we finally got in. I got to discussing web 2.0, twitter, wikis etc with another attendee while we waited for the other people to arrive (this was probably the high point of the session).

Once we started (a few minutes late, as always on these courses), the first task was to discuss in groups any jobs we had done before which were relevant to customer care (in my group these were – waitress, teaching assistant, sales assistant, enroller, and telephone sales assistant), and list what the relevant skills were (prioritisation, sense of humour, courtesy, patience, reassuring, deal with repetitive work, knowledge, initiative, approachable, understanding body language). This was interesting, hearing what jobs people had done before their library careers.

The course leader then spoke about the idea of customer care starting with the background stuff – book ordering, cataloguing quickly etc, and also with the layout of the library. The next section of the session involved the homework we were supposed to have done (which I hadn’t!) – visiting a library other than the one we work in, and making notes. In groups we went round and those who had done the homework  said where they had been, and what the good and bad points of the library were. Having done this each person then reported back to the whole room – and were asked to give the library they had visited points out of ten – I have no idea how this was supposed to help us learn anything.  There was a lot of going off topic about the layouts of specific libraries and who designed them, which was mildly interesting, but not a good use of time in a 2 hour training session. I can appreciate that the layout of a library has an impact on customer care,  but this was  not really something worth spending such a long time on.

We were then given a list of skills and competencies for a library assistant position – and had to choose which were Essential and which Desirable. I found this difficult with no idea of what job the library assistant would be doing (it is a bit of a generic job title). We were also given a document of Service Standards, which included Ten Golden Rules for Customer Satisfaction (such as be professional and friendly and don’t be afraid to say sorry) – this was of more use/interest.

Overall I didn’t find this session very useful. I learnt very little about customer care, and spent much of the time feeling frustrated.  I definitely agree with my colleague, that this has been the least useful of all the CPD25 sessions (so far!).

Chartership – shadowing and visiting

Have been doing various chartership activities lately. I am starting to feel more prepared for the writing of the statement and finishing it all off that is imminent.

The other week I shadowed our Systems Librarian for a morning. It was quite interesting to see just how many emails he gets to wade through (I hardly get any emails these days, compared with when I worked in law firms. Not sure whether to feel relieved or unwanted!). I also counted the number of visits in one morning from his manager (5). His main tasks seemed to be troubleshooting various problems relating to campus cards,  the catalogue, and dealing with IT issues (he also had a discussion with his boss about who deals with things which fall between IT and Library) and queries from other departments.

I already had a vague idea of what the Systems team do on a day to day basis, as I share an office with them. I still found the shadowing exercise useful though, as it meant he could take the time to explain what he was doing, and why.

On Monday I visited an NHS Library. I was there for about an hour, and the Principal Librarian (who also happens to be my father),  gave me a talk about the history of the Library Service, the politics, the users (apparently the biggest user group is student nurses/midwives). I also got a guided tour, and a talk from two other members of staff. It was all very interesting, partly to see what my Dad gets up to every day, and partly from a professional standpoint – seeing the similarities and differences between NHS libraries, university libraries, and law libraries.

All that remains is for me to write up reports about these two activities, and I can include them in my portfolio.

Next up – interviewing the Director of Library and Learning Support Services at my place of work…

Chartership Portfolio Forum

On Wednesday I attended a Chartership Portfolio Forum – one of the CPD25 ‘Professional Qualifications Support Workshops’.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from it – the information on the website wasn’t very descriptive of what this particular session would cover. It got off to a bad start as well – due to start at 4, it actually started at 10 past – frustrating when you have rushed to get there on time. One of the speakers hadn’t arrived, and there seemed to be a lot of umming and ahhing over what to do.

Finally they started the session with a talk from a recent successful chartership candidate. She had a few useful tips for us. The first thing she mentioned was that she had found the CPD25 courses  useful (kind of preaching to the choir, but never mind). She then said that she was unusual as she had been qualified for 10 years before Chartering, and that ‘Chartership is aimed at people at the start of their career’, though I don’t agree with this – it is something I had considered briefly earlier in my career, but only recently have I felt it was a relevant use of my time. I would say it is aimed at people who want to affirm their commitment to the profession, who want to take an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally, and who work in a place (company/sector) where chartership is valued (as opposed to some of my previous workplaces where it was seen as a waste of time).

She went on to say that she had struggled with the criteria and found them unclear – and I noticed lots of people nodding at this. It would be nicer if they were expressed in a more friendly style, with less management-speak, my brain tends to switch off at phrases like ‘ experiential and developmental activities’.

The most useful thing she said was related to putting the portfolio together – reminding us that it wasn’t an essay, and that the bits of evidence ARE your document.

Then the two CSOs spoke for a while – including a small marketing spiel for the CDG – but also more useful information – that you can send your portfolio to them for comments/help, and that 10-15 pieces of evidence is enough, that you don’t need to have everything – but choose the best bits that meet the criteria.

Some of this was aimed more at people just starting out with their chartership – as they talked a little about registering, and finding mentors (apparently Cilip have a very useful database – I assume they have fixed it since I last used it, as it wasn’t very useful then!).

There was a useful handout on how to do critical analysis  – apparently this is where most people have a problem. They also gave us tips such as to cover the criteria fairly equally in the evaluative statement, and to have a look at the form the assessors use, which is available on the Cilip website.

After a short break there was an even shorter panel session where we could ask questions. There weren’t many. Someone asked about the layout, and how creative we could be, to which the answer was that the most important thing is clarity, and that creativity is fine if it helps with this. Another person asked if it was ok to include failures, which it was if you can reflect on them as learning opportunities.

To be honest, the amount of useful information I got out of the session could have been covered in about five minutes. A lot of it covered the same ground as the Chartership and Beyond courses the CDG run. It was definitely the least useful of the CPD25 courses I have attended.

Chartership again

My chartership progress has stalled recently – too much time off on holiday, being swamped with work, both before and on return, and getting stuck at home in the snow. But this afternoon I am off on the next of the series of CPD25 training sessions – this one is on Introduction to Developing a Service – and next week I have promised my mentor that I will be bringing along a first draft of my evaluative statement. So I am feeling a lot more motivated all of a sudden!

The statement is something I have been procrastinating about for a while – it seemed like such a big scary part of the portfolio, and I hate having to write to word limits – I used to spend hours at uni trying to cut words out of overly-long essays – but now that I have made a start, it doesn’t seem so bad. I have also looked through some sample portfolios – those on the CILIP website, and some my mentor kindly lent me – and these have helped inspire me.

Chartership Progress

So far, this attempt at chartering is going much better than previous attempts. I have submitted my PPDP, begun assembling my evidence, and signed up for the CPD25 professional qualifications workshops (am off to one of these this afternoon). I have put together a draft contents page for my portfolio, and now I need to start writing up what I can of my statement. I am also going to arrange some visits to other libraries, including an NHS library, and shadow our Systems Librarian.

I did have to cancel my last meeting with my mentor, due to having urgent deadlines for work, but will have a first draft of my statement ready for my meeting after Christmas.

Chartership Redux

Now that I am all settled in at my job I have decided to get back on the chartership horse. I have a mentor, who conveniently works two offices away, so that particular challenge has been overcome with ease this time around.
As I was already registered with Cilip, I didn’t need to do this again, which was good, as I didn’t really want to spend another £50 on it. All I had to do then was send off my mentor agreement form, which I did (actually I also had a few problems with my Cilip membership as my bank hadn’t set up the direct debit, so I had to sort this out first).

I have now had two meetings with my mentor. We have set it up to meet once a month, and away from the office, so that it feels less like work. I meant to write something about the first meeting, but the month just flew by, and then the same happened with the second meeting. I called off the third, as I really hadn’t done anything, having been completely run off my feet with work. In the future I am going to try to make a bit of time each week to do at least something.

In the first meeting we discussed the whole process, and why I had ground to a halt the previous times I had started down the road to chartering. Hopefully that won’t happen this time. The second meeting felt productive. I had started on my PPDP the day before, so we discussed that, and decided some action points for me. I find the best way to make sure I do things is to have meetings – that way even though I may put it off until the last minute, I will (usually) do them just in time.

So for the next meeting I am trying to finish off my PPDP. It is quite difficult trying to decide what training and development I want to do. I am lucky that my place of work is very good at sending people on courses, and apparently happy to do job shadowing etc. I have put things down that I have already started doing, and am now thinking of other things that I want to do. It is not too scary, as the PPDP I submit now does not have to be the same as the final one, so I can make changes. Phew. So I am busily filling this in, booking myself onto training courses, and reading other people’s portfolios, and should have plenty to talk about in my next meeting.