I continued to work as an Enquiry Services Librarian for the NHS this year, and I started this blog initially to try and document my progress with CILIP Chartership but I have to admit I have decided not to continue with it. I have had a couple of moments throughout the process where I wavered a bit with it. I question a few things about it but the main reason I left was the fact that it’s a qualification with a major caveat in that you need to be a fee paying CILIP member for the rest of your career to use it/display it anywhere. CILIP membership really isn’t cheap and I questioned what I was getting out of it as a part time librarian. I definitely am a massive advocate of CPD so will continue this blog as part of my own reflective practice and career development. I strongly believe you do not need to purchase a membership or pay for education to be capable of doing valuable things in your place of work and continue to learn and improve your existing skills.
Having said that, I did invest in the e-course offered by the ALA lead by Maria T Accardi and entitled Feminist Librarianship: Re-Envisioning Library Work it was in no way a small amount of money, but at the time I felt an urge to do the Library postgraduate qualification and had a spot on the distance course at Sheffield but some reticence about my ability to do a distance learning course. I had done an online course before with the Open University and didn’t love it, so worried it would be like that. I figured if I enjoyed doing e-learning again it might work out.
I have to say I absolutely loved every minute of the Feminist Librarianship course, probably because I am so passionate and committed to intersectionality and applying it to my work as much as I can. I feel that it was such a great opportunity to reflect on what I do on a daily basis and discuss it with other librarians who were pretty much all from the USA or Canada, I think, but actually I really appreciated their experiences and I learnt a lot. One of the most amazing resources I learnt about was In the Library with the Lead Pipe – which is Open Access so you should check it out it is a complete wealth of information. Many of our readings were from this site.
I did defer my Postgraduate Diploma offer at Sheffield to 2019 and am still undecided on if it is the right choice for me. Money is the issue, rather than interest level. I do love working in libraries and I know I have a lot to offer. I am looking at funding opportunities but also wondering if I am satisfied to remain at my level and develop in other ways, rather than investing in a qualification when being a manager is not my goal in this career. Some more reflection will come I am sure but that is where I am at right now.
Some really nice library things that happened this year were:
I got to attend a regionally organised training day in Leeds on literature searching and I feel so much more confident with doing literature searches than I did this time last year. I could definitely do them a year ago, but it does feel like the best way to improve your skills is to practice and discuss them with colleagues. I really appreciate these training sessions that health libraries put on, and love meeting other health librarians.
I attended a LISNPN event in Manchester, which I already blogged about but honestly, this was such a fantastic experience and I met some of my very favourites on library twitter. Thank you to LISNPN for inviting me, I would probably not have considered myself a new-professional if I hadn’t been invited, to be perfectly honest as like I say, I do not have a LIS qualification and am unsure about doing one for various reasons.
I spent 6 months working part time in education events administration in the NHS, so got to lead on some medical education study days and worked really hard on a 4 day conference in the hospital where I already work in the library. It was exhausting work but I am proud of myself and I learnt a great deal in my time there, particularly with regard to marketing best practice and mail merges! I also got to continue with a project I had been collaborating with the department on, while at the library which ended up getting an award at the LIHNN Christmas Study Day, so that is pretty awesome!
A lot of the work I did in Education Events has helped me improve the offer at the library and also established a dialogue between two departments which were not previously working very closely, so that is really exciting and particularly in the NHS, feels like a massive achievement.
I have started training with The Reader Organisation which has been really awesome. What they do is brilliant and I learnt a lot of new skills in leading group activities and discussions which I didn’t have a great deal of experience with before. I am hoping to use elements of their practice in a series of book groups at the Christie.
The first book group took place in December and people turned up! I had been very nervous about this for some reason, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We read The Girl with 9 Wigs by Sophie Van der Stap which is a memoir of a cancer patient. We collectively decided to continue the group every 2 months, and to do a non-cancer-related title next time, so in February we will meet again and are discussing The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner.
In Autumn I started a new part-time role on the NHS at 70 project at Manchester University which has been amazing so far. I couldn’t believe it when the role came up, it just seemed like the perfect combination of all my skills and passions and then I was lucky enough to be the person they chose! We have had training from the British Library in archiving and managing audio files which is new for me, within the workplace at least. This has been such an interesting and enriching experience for me so far. I am also getting trained to do oral histories so if you are reading this and would like to be interviewed by me about your experiences with the NHS either as a patient, family of a patient, or as a person who has worked or currently works in the NHS. Please let me know.
So I am still a part time librarian without a LIS qualification, and most of my focus is still on the NHS, while I am at work. I feel like the combination of my roles right now is something I have previously only dreamt of and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to do both of these, but also want to acknowledge that in 2018 I was very hard on myself, I never stopped trying, I worked really hard and some of my non-career goals were overlooked. This year I plan to allow more time for them.