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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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August 2006 Volume 4(4)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland


National investment

Chris Taylor describes the development of a chartership programme at the National Library of Scotland.

CILIP has recently recognised the National Library of Scotland’s chartership programme as a good example for employers.Work towards this fulfillment started in 2001, when I was asked by the National Library of Scotland’s training officer to supervise a colleague who wanted to follow the route A path towards chartered status.

At the time I was unsure - I had no experience of support for chartership; and I had followed route B.[1] Furthermore, there was no one left in NLS who had supervised a candidate although there were a number of chartered colleagues. However after discussion with the officers at what was then the Library Association, and the Scottish Supervisor Liaison Officer, I agreed to help. Soon there were two more candidates and a second supervisor. We decided to pool everyone into one group to exchange ideas. It would also be more efficient to run one standard programme.

After taking further advice from outside NLS, we drew up a programme that would be valid for our three candidates, and would provide for future candidates coming from other backgrounds. Five years later, our original programme has been overhauled to take into account our experience and the 2005 CILIP chartership regulations, but its core remains.

The programme is centred around internal seminars with expert staff, project work and external visits. The candidates are given three hours of library time a week for a year but are expected to write it up in their own time over the following 12 months. We run the programme once a year putting all the new candidates into one group. NLS’s Senior Management Team support the programme and lead some of the seminars.

The internal seminars look at cataloguing, metadata, reading room work, digital libraries, ICT systems, collection development, legislation, cooperation with other libraries, cooperative storage, effective training, and management issues. We think it important to focus on librarian activities that tie in directly with chartership criteria rather than seminars purely based around NLS organisation and procedures. Candidates are expected to put forward ideas and diplomatically probe existing work practices. Asking the boss searching questions is very much encouraged. Candidates feel more involved, gain confidence and are more comfortable approaching senior managers with ideas and issues.

Networking and learning from colleagues outside NLS is extremely important. Candidates attend external training sessions and conferences. Visits have been organised to several public libraries, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, the Royal Botanic Gardens Library, Napier University Library, the National Library for the Blind, the Aberdeen Curriculum Resources and Information Service as well as an oil company library in Aberdeen. Candidates are encouraged to get involved in CILIP groups and branches. We boast committee members of both the Career Development Group and the UC&R Group in Scotland, as well as the CILIPS Eastern and Central branches. NLS candidates regularly host events for CILIP. A number of articles written by candidates have appeared in both Information Scotland and CILIP Update – particularly valuable for candidates’ portfolios. They help demonstrate an ability to present a personal viewpoint and commitment.
Perhaps the most popular aspect of the programme has been the project work. Candidates are given responsibility for investigating issues or products either individually or as a team. They have been involved in researching and then running training seminars on Library of Congress Cataloguers’ desktop, Google awareness and the Disability Discrimination Act. Individual projects have looked at the intake of ethnic literature, digitisation, virtual reference software, statistics, change management, and shelfmarking software. Team projects have produced Opac help material and a report on DDA compliant software. Traditionally the programme ends with a presentation to senior management about the team project. In December 2005 our third group successfully used this presentation to negotiate GBP12,000 for its training project.
So far we have had 15 members of staff on the programme and seven colleagues involved as supervisors (or mentors under the new regulations). Five employees have gained chartered status and a number are busy writing up. Although the library offers no reward for passing chartership in terms of extra money or automatic promotions, a number of candidates have been successful in getting better jobs. Successes include a move to a middle management job at another library, securing a new internal post which resulted in a jump of three pay-bands, progressing two pay-bands into a management position, promotion to head of unit.
The Library has benefited from new ideas, the examination of existing procedures, development of new more efficient procedures (eg. the shelfmark software), projects providing a ready mechanism to investigate issues and deliver reports, development of mentoring skills, increased external profile, an injection of enthusiasm, and the promotion of some very talented people.

Chris Taylor is a Senior Curator in the Foreign Collections Unit of the National Library of Scotland.

1 Under pre-2005 chartership regulations route A candidates worked with a supervisor following an approved programme. Route B candidates worked towards chartership without a supervisor or an approved programme.

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Information Scotland Vol. 4(4) August 2006

© Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

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Last updated: 01-Sep-2006