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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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June 2008 Volume 6(3)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

Conference: CPD

You can go anywhere too

Isabel Hood and Amanda Quick offer tips on how to make the most of CPD, the subject of their conference session ‘Regenerating Your Career: the Timelord’s guide to CPD’.

It’s been a few years since the Career Development Group Scottish Division ran a session at CILIPS Branch & Group Day. When we saw the theme of the 2008 conference was ‘Regeneration’, it was something of a red rag to a bull. We are both big fans of Doctor Who and couldn’t resist the opportunity to stretch an analogy virtually to breaking point. What might the Doctor have to teach us about managing our continuing professional development?

We began with ‘CDG Confidential’, short interviews in which we went behind the scenes of our latest qualification adventures, Amanda having achieved Revalidation in 2007 and Isabel Fellowship in 2005. Amanda writes: “Revalidation was conceived at just the right time for me, three years after I had achieved Chartership. So it was time to reflect anew on my professional development. It covered a challenging period, as I was unemployed for several months, then in a temporary post with limited CPD opportunities, followed by a new post and a glut of CPD. I struggled to be concise and to sustain momentum during a time when work was hectic with information literacy teaching. But it was a useful discipline and I intend to revalidate regularly.

Isabel writes: “I did my Fellowship for the challenge and to prove a point. The point was that it is often thought that Fellowship is only for very senior librarians in charge of vast LIS empires at the end of their careers, and somehow, therefore, ‘out of reach’. That annoys me, because it’s actually about evidencing fulfilment of the award criteria. This certainly doesn’t require you to be ‘x’ age, or in charge of ‘y’ staff or ‘z’ policy areas. The criteria are very challenging, it’s not something to be undertaken lightly or without considerable thought and work, but that’s what makes it worthwhile. So I decided to take a calculated risk and I submitted my Fellowship application six years after I Chartered.”

The TARDIS travels in time and space and can go literally anywhere. We have found the same to be true in our careers. Getting stuck into professional activities out and about has many benefits:
l Finding satisfaction in working together for a common purpose
l Challenging yourself – taking on responsibility and trying out things you might not get the opportunity to do at work
l Learning new transferable skills
l Meeting great people and forming new friendships
l Increasing awareness of different sectors and regions

When you fill in your CILIP renewal form, do you take time to think about your group memberships? At present, you get automatic membership of your local Branch/Home Nation, plus two Special Interest Groups. It only costs a little extra to join additional groups if you’re spoilt for choice.

There have been many highlights during our years in the CDG. We have enjoyed organising one-day cross-sectoral conferences around the UK on everything from ‘Mainstreaming equality’ in Leicester to workforce development in Cardiff. We have participated in fundraising for a range of international projects – our current sponsored reading challenge is ‘Passport to Latin America’ – and a memorable excursion to the Edinburgh cow parade on a blistering summer’s day. Possibly the biggest highlight has been the many interesting and inspiring people we’ve met.

Professional involvement has enabled us to develop many skills: event management; running effective meetings; teamwork; and getting the best out of people (our colleagues are all volunteers juggling committee work with full-time professional posts); flexibility; strategic planning; and leadership. Sometimes things go wrong, and we’ve learned from those mistakes. We’ve enlarged our horizons and had the opportunity to contribute to professional debate at the highest levels.

If joining a committee isn’t for you, then you can still get about to courses and other networking events. And why stop at local or national activity? Why not apply for an IFLA first-timer grant and travel abroad? If you feel deskbound you can participate in online networks such as CILIP Communities.
The Doctor keeps his sonic screwdriver close by. We’ve found a number of tools to be similarly indispensable, such as professional reading (and making your own voice heard); reflective writing (keeping your CV and CPD log up-to-date); and keeping a record of development activities in a portfolio.

Your companions on the professional journey are important. We encouraged conference delegates to map out their professional networks and think about whom they influence and who they are influenced by. Mentors, formal and informal, can help you set, review and achieve personal goals. We asked delegates to think about their goals for the short-, medium- and long-term and to record steps they could be taking towards them.

LIS professionals need to regenerate themselves. Our professional roles are only part of our identity. We all deserve a break – and we are better librarians for having a wide range of interests and contacts. Set yourself goals, and when you achieve them, celebrate and reward yourself for a job well done.

Amanda Quick e: and Isabel Hood e:

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Information Scotland Vol. 6(3) June 2008

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Last updated: 16-Jul-2008