CILIP Chartership under the new guidelines

In the last week I submitted my CILIP Chartership portfolio under the new guidelines. Obviously I don’t know the outcome yet but I thought I would share my experience of what it was like completing Chartership under the new guidelines with some hints and tips. This post will discuss:

Enrolling for Chartership

Finding a mentor

Providing CILIP with your mentor details

Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB)

Collecting evidence

Recording your evidence

Navigating the VLE and portfolio

Constructing your portfolio

Submitting your portfolio

Enrolling for Chartership

You enrol for Chartership on the CILIP Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). When I first enrolled, it was before the new guidelines came in so I sent off my paper form and payment as you did under the old rules. Once the new guidelines came in, I still had to enrol on the VLE which gave me access to formerly unseen and inaccessible areas of the VLE. This part was a bit confusing for me because I had received no notification that I had to enrol virtually a second time. There was also a password/code that I received that unlocked and gave me access to particular areas of the VLE. Once I had this sorted though, everything worked fine. I imagine anyone who enrols on the VLE will have a smoother experience than my transition.

Finding a mentor

I found this particularly challenging because so many people turned me down. I was close to asking for help from CILIP when somebody kindly stepped up to the task. I found my mentor using the spreadsheet that CILIP provide on the website. Before I started working through the spreadsheet I created criteria for myself, which I would recommend, e.g.

  • Somebody external to my organisation
  • I don’t mind long distance communication …
  • … but would like them to be close enough for me to see every so often

I quickly had to abandon my criteria as all the people close to me were busy/had already taken on mentees, etc. I ended up with a mentor that I have never seen face-to-face but who was happy to talk over the phone and via email.

I colour coded my spreadsheet so that I could keep a track of who I had and hadn’t asked, what response I got, and graded them according to my preference. I started out contacting people one at a time but with people taking a week to reply and me receiving rejection after rejection, I opted to email multiple people en masse, which worked. So I would suggest that approach if you are struggling and it is taking a long time to find somebody.

Providing CILIP with your mentor details

Once you have found your mentor, you need to inform CILIP on the VLE. You need to go to my courses > professional registration > Chartership > getting started.Mentor

Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB)

After enroling and finding a mentor, next on the list is to identify which skills you would like to develop. The PKSB is what you use to achieve this. There was some confusion for a while about whether we needed to submit the entire document in the portfolio with the areas we had decided to work on highlighted but it was confirmed that we just need to extract those skills we have chosen to develop and put them in the portfolio.

It is recommended that you choose between 6 and 10 areas to work on (I chose 7). I already had an idea of what I wanted to improve upon but worked through the PKSB to identify further areas. You rate yourself between 0 and 4 on your knowledge/experience of a skill. There is also a PKSB gap analysis, which I found very useful, where you rate your current score against your ideal score. The spreadsheet is coded to tell you how big the gap is between current ability and desired ability, helping to visualise the gaps in your knowledge and experience.

gap analysis

Collecting evidence

Once you have identified the areas that you would like to develop, it’s time to improve yourself and build up a body of evidence. This is the stage of Chartership that I and, I imagine, most people spend the majority of their time in. It is a good idea to look at each skill you have decided to develop and think of how you are going to gain more knowledge and experience. Also worth considering is that you are meeting the criteria. The three criterion are:

  • Identified areas for improvement in their personal performance, undertaken activities to develop skills, applied these in practice, and reflected on the process and outcomes.
  • Examined the organisational context of their service, evaluated service performance, shown the ability to implement or recommend improvement, and reflected on actual or desired outcomes.
  • Enhanced their knowledge of the wider professional context and reflected on areas of current interest.

As I improved my knowledge and experience, I thought about whether I was developing my “personal performance”, whether I had considered what I was doing within my “organisational context” (i.e. whether what I had learnt could be applied to the workplace, how it might improve procedures) and how it had enhanced my knowledge of the “wider professional context”.

After every session I attended, or any article that I read, or a presentation that I did, I wrote up what it was that I had done. It is much easier to take half an hour to an hour to write up what you have done rather than leave it all to the end to do. It will be time consuming to do it all in one go and your memory of what happened won’t be as fresh.

Important, also, is to reflect as you go along. For each piece of evidence I provided, I (tried!) to be reflective and say what I had learnt from the experience. Don’t leave all of the reflection to the evaluative statement – it is only 1,000 words.

Recording your evidence

The options for recording your evidence have increased compared to when the portfolio was submitted in print. I have seen a friend’s electronic portfolio where they opted to upload documents of their evidence. I chose to write mine as journal entries on the portfolio (note, there is a difference between the VLE and the portfolio. See Navigating the VLE and portfolio).

Under the ‘content’ tab is a ‘journal’ tab where you write your journal entries. I wrote a journal entry for each piece of evidence and the advantages are that you can easily link through to a website (as long as it still exists when you get around to submitting) and you can attach further documents. For example, if I attended an IT course, I would write up in the journal entry what I had done and learned and attached the certificate that I received on completion of the course.

Journal

The ‘portfolio’ is an extension of the VLE. Within the VLE are lots of resources like the Chartership handbook, chat rooms, how to navigate the VLE and so on. There will be a link to the portfolio within the VLE, which, depending on which page you’re looking at, might appear on the left or the right. This will take you through to your personal portfolio area where you create your electronic portfolio. You can update your details, make friends with people, e.g. your mentor so that they can view your portfolio, add journal entries, upload files, and more.

 Portfolio button

 Constructing your portfolio

There is already a video available on the VLE (and YouTube!) for how to construct your portfolio (my courses > professional registration > Chartership > assembling your portfolio), which is useful to watch.

The good thing about the electronic portfolio is that you decide how you want to present it. There is no enforced structure that you have to follow. As I already mentioned, I decided to present my evidence using the journal entry option rather than upload individual documents. Some advice on this:

I presented my evidence using the three criteria. I created a page each for the criteria and put my evidence within them depending on whether they were demonstrating my personal development, an improvement within my organisation, or my understanding of the wider information world. If you look at the image below you can see the the three criteria pages I created. Clicking on the link opens my page of evidence for that criterion.

Evidence criteria

To create those pages I made a ‘collection’. Under the portfolio tab is the button ‘collections’ (see below). I clicked ‘new collection’ and started adding my evidence in the form of journal entries to it.

Collections

To add that collection to my portfolio, I clicked ‘edit content’ and then under ‘general’ dragged the box that that says ‘navigation: display a collection of pages in a simple navigation list’ into the page.

Adding collection to portfolio

Note – if you take this approach you will need to share your collections as well as your portfolio on submission otherwise the assessors won’t be able to see them. This goes for any additional pages you have embedded into your portfolio page. More on sharing and submitting below.

Submitting your portfolio

There are three steps to submitting your portfolio.

  1. you need to share it with the assessors so that they can view it. Again, the above video shows you how to do this.
  2. you need to submit your portfolio back in the VLE (my courses > professional registration > Chartership > submitting your application). You quite simply choose the correct page and click ‘submit’.
  3. you need to pay your fee. The Submission Payment Form is accessible on the page that you use to submit your portfolio.

That’s it!

Conclusion

I have no experience of the old guidelines for Chartership so it is difficult for me to compare but I felt that Chartership under the new guidelines was a reasonably straight forward process. There were a few teething problems and it took a while for things to get off the ground as content was added to the VLE and the handbook was created but that didn’t impact on my ability to collect evidence, to understand the criteria, or how to present the portfolio.

I found emailing the CILIP member services very helpful and they were able to clarify anything that I was unsure about. My mentor was also great, offering guidance and advice. It is important to play around with the VLE and portfolio to familiarise yourself with its content. If you’re having trouble, just ask someone for help.

I was afraid of Chartership before I started out because of what people had said about the process but learnt otherwise. I hope this post encourages you to believe that it is not scary or difficult.

Library Camp South West

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On Saturday 27th July, I attended Library Camp South West (#libcampsw). This was my second library camp attendance and I whole-heartedly approve of the set up. I am often put off by the price of conferences, the travel involved, and the process of applying for funding to go to conferences, so to be able to go to a free conference (or unconference, as library camp is called), which throws up interesting discussions, is much appreciated.

I don’t want to criticise the traditional format of a conference having never been to one – that isn’t my intention. In fact, I’d love to go to a library conference. I simply want to praise the creation of library camp.

Library Camp South West was held in Bristol at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. This proved to be an excellent location with plenty of rooms for the different sessions available, with little noise disturbance from other groups.

I was the first person to turn up, which gave me time to sort out the visitor’s wi-fi connection on my phone. I only recently entered the world of smart phones, which has been a revelation for me. I could finally join in with fellow tweeters who were tweeting interesting things from their sessions. It offers the opportunity to interact with those who are in your session so you can see what points they are taking from the discussion, and also you can see what next door are talking about too. Keeping up with the Joneses, if you like.

Enough introductory spiel. I will now discuss the sessions I attended and what I got from them.

  • Session 1: Getting book returns

I thought that maybe this should be called ‘getting books returned’ but maybe that’s just me.

This session looked at more effective ways to get books returned on time, or returned at all in some cases. There was quite a heavy focus on public libraries and school libraries, which made it difficult to relate to the world of academic libraries (a theme that ran throughout the day). There were some interesting suggestions. Somebody proposed naming and shaming those people who had not returned their books. If somebody entered the library wanting a book that was still on loan, the librarian could point them to the wall of shame and say ‘well, if you can get the book back off them then you can use it. It’s because of them that you can’t consult it’. Somebody raised the point of data protection issues here. I’m not sure how effective this approach would be. I imagine it might encourage more complaints than anything.

My favourite suggestion was that, at the end of the year, the library adds up the total sum of fines for that year and put up a notice telling students how many pints of beer they could have bought with the money they spent on fines. I imagine this would be both amusing and possibly effective. There would certainly be no harm like the wall of shame might induce.

Somebody proposed paying a deposit for certain books, eg. those that are on reading lists. I don’t like this approach because where would you draw the line on the which books require a deposit? Also, libraries are offering a service where readers can borrow books for free. They may be deterred if they had to start paying for books they need for their research.

Another suggestion I liked, which applied to schools, was to create a reward system. A lot of schools have houses or teams which gain or lose points depending on their behaviour (ten points to Gryffindor!). If a pupil has no late books/fines, their house receives points. If another pupil returns a book late, their house loses points. This might encourage taunting from fellow pupils who are annoyed that you have lost them points, but didn’t that happen at school anyway? Class detentions because ONE pupil wouldn’t behave resulted in anger for those who really wanted to eat their lunch.

Conclusion: lots of excellent ideas. Most of them were difficult to apply to an academic setting but, from the sounds of it, school libraries suffer from late books far more than I have ever experienced in an academic setting.

  • Session 2: Tipping point

This could have been a potentially depressing session but fortunately was not. We discussed whether libraries are obsolete. After some talk about how librarians are still important, the proposer of the session intervened saying that they wanted to discuss whether the physical being of a library was obsolete, not the role.

I felt that the proposer was playing Devil’s advocate somewhat. I’m not sure whether that was because they were trying to stimulate debate or whether they truly believed libraries have had their day. If the former, discussion was heated. Many points were made about how libraries are still important but they are in a different setting now. They operate in a digital world. You can’t replace children’s story time in a public library with the internet. Part of the fun is the interaction with the story teller and other children. Parents don’t necessarily have the money to send children away over the school holiday. Libraries can offer them free and fun activities, and books to read, of course.

Somebody said that the people who are in charge of public libraries’ purse strings don’t understand libraries. They have a good wage and go home to broadband. They don’t relate to people who have little money, no computer or internet. There are people who still need to go outside of their home to use computers. As vocal a point this was, I’ don’t like to be so judgmental about the supposed lack of sympathy of the people in charge of the budget without meeting them.

Conclusion: there wasn’t really a conclusion and I’m not sure we could have expected there to be. I certainly hope libraries have a future. We discussed whether, if libraries didn’t exist now, would we create one? The answer was yes, we would. Maybe not based on the same model but we would have somewhere to house knowledge and resources, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to be the powerful society we are.

  • Session 3: Chartership

I have to admit, i didn’t find the afternoon sessions nearly so stimulating as the morning sessions. I attended the Chartership talk with the hope of finding some enthusiasm to start the Chartership process. I ended up becoming more confused. There was a lot of ‘I heard that …’ and ‘I thought that …’ going around with few facts about Chartership. There were lots of rumours going around, like you can’t Charter unless you’re in a professional job (this turns out not to be true).

I was hoping there would be people really fighting for Chartership, saying it’s an excellent idea, they enjoyed it, they’re better off for doing it but there was none of that. I have never heard anyone say good things about Chartering, very much like library school. I got the impression it’s a means to an end, which left me a little deflated.

Conclusion: not what I was expecting. I felt worse about Chartering than when I went in.

  • Session 4: Collaborative work

I ended up in this session because I went into the wrong room but it was my second choice so I thought I’d stay rather than embarrass myself by leaving. As I mentioned already, a lot of the sessions throughout the day had a public and school library theme and this session was no exception, which made it hard to relate to working in an academic library.

Something I hadn’t really thought about before is that by collaborating, you will be helping to promote the other person(s), whether they are an author coming into a public library, or a literary festival going to a school. You need to talk about what you both want so you can both benefit.

Most relevant to me was collaborating with your colleagues. Whether they are fellow librarians or work in the IT department, you can teach each other about your role, an aspect of your work they’re unfamiliar with. In one of my previous roles, we would use some of the staff meetings to give a presentation about a project we were working on or just elaborating on what our job really involved. Although we worked in the same room, we didn’t necessarily know what the other person did to contribute to the library

Conclusion: required thinking outside the box to relate to the academic library but gave me ideas to use in the future, or maybe even propose to the boss one day!

  • Session 5: Apps

I struggled with this session, probably because of my expectation which did not stem from the proposal but from what I imagined might happen. I thought we might talk about apps, how to implement their use into your library, pros and cons, experiences, and so on. The three quarters of an hour were spent naming apps, and that was about it. In fact, my notes read:

“Strange session. Seem to be discussing favourite apps with no relation to libraries. Issue with lib camp – goes off topic. Need someone to take control & bring back to topic. Lots of discussion about educational apps for lessons at school. Not about use of apps in library but actual apps.”

This could have been a really valuable session. I wonder whether anyone else felt the way I did about its content. Maybe in the future I could propose the session myself with the format I was expecting.

Overall: despite the public and school library theme that ran through the day and the slightly unstimulating sessions I attended in the afternoon, I enjoyed Library Camp SW and have been encouraged to attend more in the future. I have expressed my interest for the one in Birmingham later this year so I will have more opportunities to learn about current issues and trends in libraries.