Belated reflection on the #NLPNConnect Networking Day with @NLPN_

This was back in early May now, but I am at the critical writing up stage of my Chartership and so here I am, reflecting on it.

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The day had the useful hashtag #nlpnconnect and also NLPN have published a guest blog post on their blog here so if you are really keen to read more then there you go. I know there is at least one terrible photo of me on the hashtag so you might enjoy that.

Firstly I must be completely honest as is my way, and admit that this event would probably have completely passed me by if I hadn’t been invited to be one of the ‘speed networking’ people. I had literally no clue what this would involve but it’s nice to be asked isn’t it! Anyway I am so glad they did approach me because honestly I had SUCH a positive experience and it really got me enthusiastic about libraries again as I met so many likeminded people who were doing inspiring work. It encouraged me to finally get on and do this Chartership thing I’ve been dragging my heels over, and it was one of the reasons why I decided to make this blog, which seems to be going okay, so that’s awesome.

It was on a Saturday, us poor new library professionals giving up a precious Saturday! There was coffee and cake though.

Some reflective thoughts on the day:

  • It made me think more about what it means to be a library professional. I did wonder if my job title was the reason I was invited to be there, and if that mislead the organisers into thinking I had a LIS qualification, which I don’t. Am I therefore not a New Library Professional? I did a bit of soul searching in a previous blog post about this. Ultimately, I think this has pushed me forward a bit in making strides with Chartership, because I know I have the experience and know in a way I do self-identify as a Library Professional or at least Para-professional, but for some reason without that piece of paper, others may not agree.
  • It made me realise how far I have come. I went to a New Professionals Information Day run by CILIP back in 2011/2012 I think it was actually this one blogged about here. At the time I was a Library Assistant at the Bodleian Healthcare Libraries (a great place to work, btw) and was still undecided about if I should do a Library MA or a Museum Studies MA. In the past 6 years since then I have spent 3 years in libraries, 1 doing that Museum Studies MA and the other 2 years working in the NHS. I feel like all of this experience has been incredibly valuable, even the masters in a way, and being back in libraries is the right path for me. While I have not done a lot of library networking in that time, I have done a lot of public speaking and museum networking and I realised that I felt more confident this time, perhaps with a bit of time and experience under my belt. I was not shy to introduce myself and get chatting with people who I wanted to meet and find out more about their roles.
  • The presentation/workshop on Library Job Titles, Future Library Skills run by CB Resourcing contained a lot of things I already knew, so maybe I’m cleverer than I realised? It also contained things I knew to question, so maybe my information analysis skills are also better than I give myself credit for. I felt able to query something I was confused by, and there was a critical discussion at the end which felt really useful.
  • The Networking session was interesting, I went around 4 tables and sort of did a mini presentation (with literally no notes or anything) about who I am, my role and my journey to this point. I think I was the only one without a LIS qualification (correct me if I am wrong, someone!) but my job was a real example of one where if you didn’t read the job description, the job title may have put you off.
  • I highly enjoyed meeting others on the day, in particular Jen from https://libdiverse.wordpress.com/ who promoted the network, which was incredibly new at that stage. The irony of her promoting a diversity network to a room of white passing people was not lost on me, or her actually, but being an ally is important, do the work. Go follow them on Twitter here if you have not already. I also met Harriet (whose blog I have been enjoying very much) and got to speak to them about doing the Library MA at Sheffield, where I have an offer.
  • It was great to chat with academic librarians for the first time in a while actually, and gain some insight into what they get up to, including collections and open access work. I also chatted with some FE librarians, and as I spent a year covering Maternity in a college library, and also spent a year volunteering in a secondary school library and absolutely loved this work, it was fantastic to chat to them about themes in their line of work, particularly the loneliness of the solo librarian.
  • I also got to hear Penny Andrews chat about values which is definitely something I am interested in and have thoughts about. In particular the way that librarians and CILIP like to talk about what it really means to be a librarian. I found this to be very insightful and I have been doing a lot of reflective thinking about why I got into this and what I want this work to achieve going forward.

Anyway sorry for all the waffle, but I needed to get this down for posterity, and Evidence. Thanks to NLPN for putting the event on, I will keep an ear to the ground for another event like this in future.

 

 

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Revisiting my Portfolio take two

It’s high time I updated about Chartership, isn’t it.

So when I left off last, I was about to have a look at my PKSB (professional knowledge and skills base). This was a massive stumbling block when I first started Chartership but after attending the local workshop at MMU I felt much more confident. It was suggested that you fill out the excel spreadsheet version of the form, and much to my relief, that you hide all the cells of things that you are not focusing on/are not relevant to your job. This made it feel much more of a manageable task as there is only so much you can achieve in this process and by my count, 96(!) elements that could be explored. They all come under the subheadings in the handy PKSB wheel below.

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These subheadings include things I feel a bit scared by and are not directly relevant to my role, including Contract Management, Legal Deposit, Preservation and… Information Architecture, whatever that is, it’s okay don’t comment I will google it.
Nevertheless one nice thing about the PKSB is that if there is an area of librarianship you know nothing about, or you don’t get the chance to explore at work, and want to improve your skills in, the chance is there to do so.

So even though the Excel version is apparently easier to use, you can fill in the questions nicely on the website which leads to a downloadable PDF. I looked at my printout and shock horror, I had filled it out on 26th May 2017, so it is high time I get the rest of this admin done, I mean look at the state of it!

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One cool thing they have on the website is a set of templates where you can see, based on your sector, where your skill level should be. So there is an example for an NHS Clinical/Outreach Librarian, which is pretty interesting as I can benchmark my own skills against that. Mind you it “provides an indication of the level of knowledge and skills you may need” and I don’t want to get too hung up on comparing myself to others when this is mostly about self-reflection, right? or DO I.

I can be really hard on myself and I think I have already mentioned in a previous blog about how I want to do ALL OF THE THINGS, so it is tempting to try and change/improve everything about myself, but actually I have been doing this for a year, and I don’t want to burn out. The Chartership workshop leader said that you shouldn’t try and fill it all out, so I didn’t.

So you basically have to rate yourself on various elements, using the below scale, and also give an ideal rating which can be more or less or the same as your own score.

0 – None

1 – Basic

2 – Good

3 – Comprehensive

 4 – Advanced

So a good example of this is my own score of 4, an advanced level of knowledge for 12.4 Social media and collaborative tools. I have a firm hold and am well-rehearsed in this area partly from using it for work, and researching it during my Museum Studies MA, which is relevant in my opinion, as many aims of museums are the same as what libraries try to achieve on social media… but also partly from my love of tweeting inanely about my life.

I feel that a score of 3, a comprehensive level of knowledge, is ideal for my role, so maybe I’m doing a little better than I need to on that front. Having said this I do think that there are apps and other tools out there I could be better informed about, so in hindsight maybe I should say I have 3? Okay I might actually change it to 3 and then explore these things and blog about them and then that can be a bit of evidence…. Anyway the last few sentences there are very much representative of my thought process throughout filling out the PKSB. I guess it’s important to value your skills but also give yourself room to grow and also don’t assume you do know everything.

I’ll do some more examples.

5.3 Copyright, intellectual property and licensing is an area I have a vague understanding of from day to day practice, so I rated my self as having 1 – a basic knowledge of it. It is not an area I feel I know the ins and outs of though, and I feel this would be useful in health libraries, so I gave that area an ideal score of 3, a comprehensive level of knowledge.

1.6 Thesauri – these come up in healthcare database searching and when I did my PKSB, remember this is something I filled out over a year ago now, I rated myself as having 0 or no knowledge of. Ideally I feel like I need to have a Good knowledge, a rating of 2, to excel in my role. So I have put that is one of my goals.

Below is one of the sections of the PKSB excel spreadsheet and it shows that I have made some notes in the end section, which is basically a brain dump of my own ideas for exploration. Also you’ll see that 6 of these rows I have decided not to fill out, so I will be hiding these rows and not worrying about them for the moment.

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All in all this didn’t take me that long to do, and it made me really think about how each part of my job fits into it. But it is very daunting and the possibilities are endless. I’m not sure I will ever feel satisfied with my skill level enough on something to rate it a 4, which means ‘Advanced’.

Anyway, it feels a bit fiddly at times but actually I did find this process to be valuable. I barely ever allow myself time to reflect on how far I have come and Chartership is forcing me to do that. I am very much the sort of person who continually charges on to the next thing and the next thing so hopefully this will allow me to think more carefully about areas for improvement and areas I am nailing. Go me.

Revisiting my Portfolio Page

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This is not related but is an accurate representation of my progress so far. Also I love Spyro, does anyone else love Spyro?

 

I promised I would update here weekly to inform you of my ~progress~ with Chartership, so here I am. This week I bit the bullet and logged back in to my VLE. The CILIP website has changed a fair bit in the past 6 months, mostly for the better, but I did struggle to find my area with my portfolio and stuff.

For future reference for myself: you need to be signed in, then click on the ‘Quick Link’ to the VLE, then you need to click sign in again (?) then it is called CILIP portfolio – then it is the button at the bottom under ‘My Pages’.

When I did log in I was greeted with the shameful reality that it is now almost halfway through 2018 and my page was very out of date, but has now been renamed:

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After getting over the embarrassment of not having logged in for a good nine months, I had a little audit of what was on there, and added a bit more into the annotated JD which was essentially procrastination.

I also realised I had not uploaded my PKSB so was actually not as far ahead as I thought, and so had to hunt around for it on my computer.

My tasks for the next week:

Have another look at the PKSB and ramble on about that in my next blog post.

I also want to decide what bits of evidence I am going to use.

See you next time!

Chartership, or a longwinded tale of procrastination…

Disclaimer

Look I am no stranger to work blogs and I know that they don’t help you get jobs and no one really reads/cares about them, this sentiment can also be applied to Twitter and LinkedIn, in my experience!

I used to have a blog that was called ‘museumingrid’ and having pretty much given up on a museum/heritage career eight years later, I wonder if this is the first nail in the coffin on any future career in libraries too. My experience is all over the shop. I come out in a cold sweat during that first icebreaker question in a job interview when asked to summarise myself and why I applied to a job. Why? Because for a start my CV is not this logical path from going to uni to where I am today.

Also the minute I feel like my skillset, intentions or ‘career’ aspirations are pigeonholed or defined in any way, I feel a bit trapped. The fact is, I want to do EVERYTHING and I have already given it a good go, but right now I’m doing library and education events stuff in the NHS and I am enjoying it. As such I am currently trying to do CILIP Chartership and have been dragging my heels for 12 months or so and thought if I can go on about it on a blog, I might get it done. Let’s test that theory.

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Why CILIP Chartership? I guess firstly I should say why CILIP? I joined CILIP when I started my current post as an Enquiry Services Librarian in June 2016. I was delighted to be the selected candidate when I got the job because I hadn’t worked in libraries for over a year and hadn’t been in health libraries since 2012. I later found out that I was the only person shortlisted who did not have the library masters.

I do have an MA but it is in Museum Studies and when I started my current role I was in no way interested in doing another one. So yes, joining CILIP and doing the Chartership felt like a cheaper alternative when it came to choosing a recognised LIS qualification. Almost two years later and I have been paying my membership and not doing much else, which I do completely own, as it’s my own lack of energy or time, or ability to prioritise over other more exciting things. Mind you ‘working towards Chartership’ is something I can put on job applications without actually being a lie. Anyway when I got this job and was ‘back in the LIS game’ I thought okay ought to join CILIP as I had said in my application that I would.

So far my experience of Chartership is that it seems to require you to pay money to do your own administration to prove you can do what you already do. So far this is my experience anyway. But it’s one of those things that comes up as being ‘desirable’ so I’m jumping through the hoops aren’t I!

I must thank the Northwest branch of CILIP for their informative and hugely valuable training day (? I think I will refer to it as a workshop from now on) I attended at MMU many months ago. The CILIP regional reps were incredibly approachable, friendly and helpful, and made me feel so much more equipped to manage it and put things in the plain language I really needed.

Getting a Chartership Mentor was a frustrating process. The spreadsheet you get access to is pretty cool but in reality, was quite out of date as I awkwardly found out when I emailed people to see if they would be my mentor. Anyway when I attended the aforementioned workshop one of the facilitators recommended a few people they knew might be available and I lucked out with my first choice from that group (an experienced Public Library Manager) as they were able to mentor me and we have been able to meet IRL in a very convenient location which I appreciate because I think meeting in real life is much more motivating for me.

I think the mentor-mentee experience is what you make of it, I have met mine twice but at the end of the day, they aren’t going to make me do this! I have to do it myself.

It took me some time to navigate the VLE and again, attending the training/workshop day at MMU was so helpful. I don’t think I could have got this far without that. I have made my Chartership Portfolio page on the website, which is kind of like a Myspace page in that you can choose different layouts, and sections for bits and pieces.

The PKSB (Professional Knowledge & Skills Base?) was also a bit confusing, but in the workshop it was explained really well which I found much more accessible. There is a Health Library specific one as well which I have been using. I think the best thing was finding out that I don’t have to fill out every single thing in it particularly as there are loads of sections which are simply not relevant to what I do or I personally do not have the wherewithal to worry about them.

For me the best part so far has been annotating my CV and Job Description. I actually really enjoyed doing this and found it easy in that I liked the opportunity to be really analytical about my skills, my experience, and how the job plays out in reality compared to the job description. I am in a job share post which complicates things a bit and means that not every single thing in my JD is something I necessarily deal with. Me and the other member of staff who share my post both have different experiences and strengths so I was recruited for my strengths to make the team as a whole more well-rounded and it’s satisfying to see where I fit in to the team and what elements of the Job Description I found came naturally and other bits I have picked up along the way.

Now I need to be doing my evidence but something about this terrifies me, it feels very daunting even though I have actually done all the things in my day to day role. Writing about them and documenting them feels like a weird, uncomfortable process. Hello reflective writing process!

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Anyway that is where I am at. I will try and update at least once a week about what I am doing etc.