Saturday, 16 July 2011

Being a Professional

I've been thinking about the meaning of being a Library Professional in 2011. Personally, I'm a big CPD advocate, a current CILIP member and a Chartered Professional Librarian to boot. So I should be happy at the top of this little tree, right?

Not really. Three things have challenged my thinking recently:

  • What difference has Chartership made to my career?
  • What difference does a Library qualification make when I'm looking at Person Specifications for jobs, or reading application forms?
  • Why isn't every Librarian a CILIP member?
I am finding the answers I'd have given here two years ago harder to justify now. The status quo is not an optimal situation:
  • Most employers don't look to Chartership as a significant factor anymore.
  • I know some experienced people who work in Libraries who could do a 'professional' job tomorrow, but don't have the qualification. I also know qualified people who have climbed a step on their career with more help from having the qualification on their CV than their actual experience or talent.
  • CILIP membership does not permeate through the profession deeply enough.
Would a new paradigm here provide a more competitive Library profession? Perhaps one where:
  • All people who work in Libraries are judged by their experience and talent
  • No job is inaccessible to someone who is capable of doing it
  • Everyone in the profession feels part of the community

The risk in this situation is that professionalism is lost - cornerstone values of the profession could become devalued. Allowing myself one of those 'if I was in charge' moments, I'd spend some time working out if a modular approach to CPD in Libraries could work as part of this new paradigm. It could offer a more flexible way to develop the skills employers look for and be more approachable and accessible or those with limited funds and time.

If this was combined with a different, ultra-inclusive membership model for CILIP, it might also give everyone in the profession the reassurance that only a successful Library community could offer, that although we're all different, we're all working towards the same goal - excellent library and information services, staffed with expert and fulfilled staff.


Biddy Fisher said...

I like your thoughts and agree with the 'if I were in charge' conclusion. Being a member of a professional body should also mean something to the users of our services too, not just to us, our careers and to our employers. During the time CILIP was 'Defining our Professional future' I always quoted Nolan priniciples (for those employed in the public sector, or in public service) as well as the House of Lords nine criteria for a professional association. Both involve an objective approach to professionalism and qualifications that somehow may have got lost with many of our employing authorities. There was also a big move to equality and non discriminatory recruitment practices in the early 90's that meant employers became wary and uncertain of asking for professional qulaifications. It was a bit of a hurdle then, but perhaps with more sophisticated role evaluation models, job descriptions and role analysis we have matured to be able to recognise and value them again?

23 things city admin said...

Hi Dave
Have you thought of standing as a CILIP trustee?
In an ideal world all librarains would be cilip members and would charter. I agree with Biddy in that this needs to mean something to our users, though.

23 things city admin said...
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