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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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December 2006 Volume 4(6)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

Future of the profession

ACLIP – what’s all the fuss about?

Gillian Devonshire and Aurora Mackintosh give us a personal view of the benefits of taking part in CILIP’s Certification process.

What is ACLIP? Check the CILIP website and you’ll find it’s not in their list of acronyms. However when you get your certificate all is revealed – Certificated Member of CILIP. And so you should be!

Follow the Framework Schema Diagram and it seems to be the first step of steady progression to Chartership, for members with information related work experience. Is this the route for you? We thought it was for us and so we read the Certification Handbook from cover to cover to understand the process.

Support
According to the handbook there are regional CPD Officers to provide information on the certification process. There is a support network provided by the Career Development Group. We consulted the Mentor Database as advised in the Handbook. Oh Dear; Scotland was lagging behind and no support was available yet for ACLIP candidates. (Thankfully Scotland now has its own CDG ACLIP Candidate Support Officer (CSO) and workshops are planned for the future.) An initial flurry of interest within our organisation quickly petered out and we were the only assistants keen to pursue the golden egg. Fortunately our line manager, a Chartered member, agreed to help us through the process. Through networking with local colleagues we set up a group to encourage and support each other, which proved to be immensely valuable.

Personal
Our reasons for pursuing this award included a desire for recognition, personal development, satisfaction and the ultimate goal, as promised in the Handbook, to progress to Chartership. Our line manager allowed us staff development time of around two hours per week to work on our submissions. We set a goal to complete the whole process within a year and this meant using weekends, evenings, lunch times and, occasionally, holidays.

Process
First we tackled the Curriculum Vitae. The group decided to look at this together; many of us hadn’t written a CV for years. The CILIP website provided useful tips on content and presentation. We took into account that this is a skills based CV, not a recruitment CV, and adjusted the content accordingly.

Next came the Personal Statement and our first encounter with the dreaded template. Each of the seven categories provided its own challenge in finding appropriate evidence and reflecting on experiences. The summary of 500 words tested our abilities and determination to present ourselves in the best possible light in such a short document. Reading, re-reading, writing, re-writing, editing and involving colleagues to comment all helped.

The Personal Development Plan was the next hurdle. Again a template defines the layout. Once we established what was required the section was comparatively easy to complete. However, will it be as easy to succeed in achieving all that was identified in the timescale defined? We also realised that, as part of the package, local branch and group membership would be useful in order to keep up to date with the wider library community. It is here that we were asked to undertake ‘professional reading’. Although this is a daunting phrase we realised that we already read CILIP publications: Update, Information Scotland, Frontline, Exchange and Gazette. All we needed to do was widen our scope. There is no need, at this stage, to study library tomes. There’s plenty to learn online, too.

Gathering the evidence was easy but selecting what was relevant was more difficult. There’s no point in having bags and bags of evidence if none of it is referred to in your personal statement. We learned to be discerning in our choices in order to illustrate reflective processes. It was important to remember quality not quantity and essential to pay particular attention to presentation.

Checking, labelling and editing was completed. At the last minute we discovered that, although the Handbook required two copies, we did in fact need three. We had forgotten to check the news items on the webpage.

And next?
Within six weeks we were awarded our Certificates and are now entitled to use the post-nominal ‘ACLIP’. So, what now? The original idea was to pursue Chartership after two years. However discussion on LIS-CILIP-REG highlighted the uncertainty over progression from ACLIP to MCLIP. The Chartership handbook does seem to imply that candidates should be working at a professional level to acquire the knowledge base to qualify for Chartership. Question: what is professional level? Is it reflected in the title of the job or by the duties undertaken? At a recent workshop in Perth, it was clear that the majority of prospective ACLIP candidates at out presentation were considering ACLIP as a step on the road to Chartership. If the situation is not clarified then we fear that CILIP will lose much good will and membership.

The effort involved in completing the portfolio revealed our own shortcomings, achievements and talents. It was an enjoyable experience. The future of ACLIP is in the hands of CILIP and Affiliated Members. Perhaps it should be promoted as a stand-alone qualification together with the aim of being a step on the road to Chartership. We could promote the award as a ‘gold standard’ for paraprofessionals in the information industry. The award should provide an avenue for recognition or promotion and employers should be made aware of the calibre of recipients.

Gillian Devonshire and Aurora Mackintosh are Library Assistants at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.


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Information Scotland Vol. 4(6) December 2006

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Last updated: 26-Jan-2007