Saturday, 26 March 2011

Perhaps Chartership isn’t that scary after all!

As some of you might know, I’ve been thinking about Chartership for a while – since I started my job back in November in fact. I’m always looking for the next thing to do to develop and progress, and Chartership seemed like the logical next step. After a couple of months of reading and re-reading the Chartership instructions and information on the CILIP website, and panicking about the whole finding a mentor business, the various acronyms that kept cropping up, and the sheer scale of the thing, I recently decided it was time to jump in at the deep end, and send my registration form off then start the hunt for a mentor. 

I was lucky in that the first mentor I emailed was happy to take me on. She works in the same sector but in a different university – after taking advice from various people on the pros and cons of having a mentor in the same organisation, versus one from outside, I decided that it would be more helpful to select a mentor who didn’t work for my university, in order to avoid the risk of inadequate explanation or evaluation in my portfolio due to them understanding the context behind things. We had a telephone conversation earlier in the week, which was very successful – we seem to be on the same wavelength and I entirely trust in her abilities as a mentor – and we decided to progress with the mentoring relationship. 

It’s been a fairly Chartership-filled week, as yesterday I attended a “Preparing for Chartership and Certification” course run by the CILIP West Country Career Development Group. Attending one of these courses is, I believe, a requirement for Chartership, and I decided to do it sooner rather than later, in the hope that it would help to make everything make sense to me.  It was a really useful day; a good mix of presentations outlining things like the assessment criteria and the types of evidence that can go in your portfolio, group activities such as identifying skills and sources of training together, which I found really helped to get me thinking about my own skills audit and Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP), and opportunities to network with the other attendees – exchanging contact details with people working in other types of library or information service may potentially be helpful in arranging visits to other libraries, which will contribute to our understand of the wider profession, one of the Chartership assessment criteria.

I won’t write a detailed account of the day, but I will share just a couple of the many useful things that I found out:
  • Your local CDG Candidate Support Officer (CSO) can help with pretty much anything to do with your Chartership, from helping you to construct your PPDP, to resolving problems in the mentor/mentee relationship. I knew from my own involvement on CDG committees that each had a CSO, but I was unaware of the extent to which they can offer help and advice. I fully trust in my mentor’s ability to help, but it’s good to know that there is someone else who can cast a second eye over my PPDP, or can answer any questions that I feel are too daft to put to my mentor! You can find your local CSO on the CILIP website.
  • Blogs can be used as your evaluative diary. We were told that keeping some kind of diary, in which you evaluate your recent activities, will be really helpful when it comes to writing the evaluative statement to go with your portfolio, and that we should use whatever kind of diary or record works for us, including blogs. I suspected that my blogging would be useful in keeping my reflective/evaluative writing skills up to scratch, but I thought I would need to record things in a separate space for Chartership; it was good to find out that I can continue to blog about what I’m doing as a means of evaluative recording, as this is the format that works for me, and I don’t want to completely separate things off as being “Chartership” activities – everything I do over the next year or so will be contributing to Chartership.
The main thing that I realised after the day was that, in fact, I’m actually doing a lot of the things required for Chartership already; keeping records of activities like the teaching that I do, and other things that I get involved with, as well as a “staff development log” of in-house training that I attend and what I’ve gained from it, reflecting upon and evaluating activities and events through blog posts, collecting evidence i.e. feedback from teaching sessions, furthering my professional involvement through committee membership and publishing work in the professional press, and ensuring I develop my understanding of the wider profession and my place in it, through reading about what is going on in mine and other LIS sectors, and keeping up-to-date via blogs, mailing lists, and Twitter. So now, Chartership doesn’t seem like such a huge, scary prospect! Yes, it’s a big thing, a long process that will require hard work, enthusiasm, dedication and organisation, but I feel now that it is completely do-able for me. This weekend I shall start work on my initial PPDP draft, and I am looking forward to getting stuck in and getting on my way with Chartership. I really encourage anyone else in my position to just go for it – get registered, look for a mentor, go to a “preparing for Chartership course” (list here, or keep an eye on the events page on LISNPN), and don’t be scared or intimidated – as I discovered, you’re probably in a Chartership frame of mind already.