Sunday, 26 April 2015

My top tips for a painless CILIP Revalidation

I’d been putting Revalidation off. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you have been too. It was one of those things that I knew I should do, but it kept slipping down my to-do list, and I didn’t really know what it entailed, and then the CILIP VLE looked complicated and fiddly. Sometime late last year I decided that enough time had passed since my Chartership and I really should be re-evaluating my personal development, particularly since I had moved up the ladder to a new role at another institution since Chartering.  When I actually looked into what I needed to do, and started to do it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a fairly easy process! 

This post assumes that you know what Revalidation involves. If you don’t, go and read Jo Alcock’s comprehensiveblog posts about it. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, go and read them anyway; I found them immensely helpful in getting to grips with what I needed to do. 

Once you’re ready to get started, here are my top tips for making the whole thing as painless as possible…

Bear the criteria in mind when recording your CPD. You need to show you have met the criteria for whichever qualification you are revalidating. Go and read the relevant handbook (the Chartership criteria at least have changed a bit since I Chartered in 2012) to make sure you know what they are. I then copied and pasted them into my document where I was recording my CPD, and added another column to the table I was using where I stated which criterion/a that particular activity met. This will make it easier to identify any gaps, and to write your reflective statement. You don’t have many words to play with (more on this later) so don’t try to pigeonhole in anything that doesn’t fit the criteria. 

Don’t rely on your memory. You’ll remember events you’ve been to or training you’ve done, but going back through your emails, diary, and notes from meetings with your manager or team meetings may remind you of other bits and pieces which have contributed to your CPD. Bringing me to my next point…

…Think outside the box. You already know that things like reading Update and other professional literature, or taking part in Twitter chats such as #uklibchat, count towards your CPD just as much as formal training opportunities do, but examine your everyday activities even more closely. Have you written blog posts about things you’ve done, had a chat with anyone about issues and challenges, or taken on any kind of mentoring or advisor role, however informal, for a less experienced colleague? Even seemingly unremarkable things will have contributed to your development, and these can be included too.

You don’t have space to be anything other than reflective! Remember how hard it was to cram everything you wanted to say into your 1000-word statement for Chartership? Well, this time you only have 250 words – just 25% of that space! It’s all about the reflection. I recommend identifying and using the main keywords from the criteria (easy – we’re librarians!) in your statement, to really draw the assessor’s attention to how you’ve met them, without wasting words on description. Just as you were advised to do with your Chartership portfolio, make the assessor’s life as easy as possible!

And finally…just get on with it! I think it probably only took me a total of about eight hours over a few weeks to get my CPD recorded, write my statement and upload it all. If I’d been in better habits with recording my CPD as I went along, it would have taken me even less time! It’s really not an arduous process, so make some time to become familiar with it, starting putting together your CPD record, and I reckon you’ll find it much easier than you expected.

Do you have any other top tips for a painless Revalidation? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Friday, 24 April 2015

World Book Night in an academic library

Since beginning to get involved in National Libraries Day last year, at University of Bedfordshire Library we have been looking at finding ways to join in with other national events which would be suitably appropriate and engaging to our students. This year we decided to apply as an institutional giver to hand out free books for World Book Night, and we were lucky enough to receive copies of two titles to distribute.

We decided that this would be part of a wider and more long-term campaign to promote and encourage the health and wellbeing benefits of reading for pleasure. As we stated in our application to hand out books, we spend a lot of time pushing the importance of academic reading – reading around your subject etc. – but given that we as a university are concerned about student wellbeing and ensuring that our students remain happy and healthy throughout their time here, we felt that we should be promoting the ways in which reading for pleasure can help. We therefore decided to also use World Book Night to launch a blog where staff and students can share their recommendations for books to read and their experiences of and feelings on reading in a non-academic sense.

Deciding where to hand the books out was a challenge. The aim of World Book Night is to distribute books to people who do not ordinarily read, so at first we thought we would go to a space outside of the library/LRC, perhaps the Student Union (SU). However, having decided to run our event during the evening, we considered where the students would actually be at 6pm on a Thursday in the run-up to final deadlines and exams, and realised that they would be in the library spaces, so we decided to use these. We felt that we were still likely to catch students who weren’t readers, as their presence in the library indicated only that they were doing academic reading, not necessarily any other kind.

We did not receive as many books as perhaps we had hoped – only two sets of eighteen, meaning nine of each title at each campus where we were giving – due to The Reading Agency wanting to allow as many institutions as possible to give out books. Therefore we decided to run a book swap at the same time.

The event went really well at both campuses. Despite having deadlines looming, the students we encountered gave a positive response, with most of them seeming pleased to be offered a book and engaging with the titles, wanting to know what they were about and which to choose. We didn’t get many book swap donations on the night, but had had a few come in during the days before, so we had plenty of other books to offer too, which the students were keen to browse and pick from. Several said that it would be a welcome distraction from the stress they were under at the moment – a good point at which we could share some statistics on the health benefits of reading for pleasure – while others were looking forward to reading their free book once they were finished with their studies for the year.

We would have liked to have run some events or activities for World Book Night in addition to the giveaway, and did discuss this, but the main problem with this idea is the time of year – our students are too busy with their assignments, dissertations and revision to be able to engage with anything else and so we felt that we would not get sufficient attendance for anything. However, given the positive response to the book hand-out, we felt that our first foray into World Book Night was successful, most particularly in the context of the time of year.

We are continuing to add to our reading blog, and will think about other activities and events that we could run to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of reading for pleasure.