28 Jun 2013

Celebrating Success: An Open Day for Library and Information Workers

Guest post by Helen Kielt (@helenkielt), Libraries NI

On Wednesday 26 June 2013 CILIP Ireland and Career Development Group (NI Division) hosted ‘Celebrating Success’, an event which took place in the trendy Titanic Quarter Campus of Belfast Metropolitan College. The programme was themed around recognising achievements and encouraging the continuing development of library and information workers in a variety of sectors. Members and non-members were invited to meet, network and hear from knowledgeable speakers on topics relating to promoting skills and expertise within the information professions.

Recognising Professional Skills and Knowledge

Simon Edwards, Director of Professional Services at CILIP, spoke about gaining recognition for professional skills and gave an overview of the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB). The PKSB is a framework designed to help members to identify and monitor a broad range of professional skills. As a self-assessment tool it can be used to identify gaps in skills and experience, with a view to expanding expertise and developing knowledge in a range of contexts. Simon discussed making professional registration more relevant, accessible and attractive. Routes such as Certification and Chartership are important pathways for exploring continued professional development. A lot of attention has been given in recent times to CILIP rebranding and Simon gave an update on this, advocating member’s choice and speaking of change as an opportunity to move forward refocused on ethos and ambition.

Recognising Research, Study and On-going Learning

Dr Jessica Bates (@Jessica_Bates), Lecturer in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster, spoke about the value of research for library and information services. Like Simon, Jessica emphasised the importance of professional knowledge and skills being balanced by professional practice and reflection. As Jessica said, ‘if the role of the librarian is to enable learning, we need also to progress our own learning and development’. Jessica alluded to the building blocks of success such as learning from others, study and evidence based practice. There are many routes to professional success and reading is key to developing professionally. Keeping up to date with journals and publications such as CILIP Update are important ways to engage with research and learn about best practice.

Jessica was joined by present and former students of the Library and Information Management course at UU; Geraldine Delaney, Sarah Smyth, and Peter Wright - fitting advocates for the information profession and lifelong learning. Jessica talked about celebrating the success of students and graduates, both in terms of their individual achievements and their role in raising the status of information professionals in Northern Ireland. Sarah Smyth shared her success in contributing to an emerging body of local research evidence, through her master’s study of eBook usage among higher education students in Northern Ireland. PhD student Peter Wright who is currently researching the use of tablets in post-primary schools, talked about his own route to the profession and the role of CILIP Chartership in introducing ways of developing both the library professional and the library. I was delighted that my fellow classmate Geraldine Delaney shared expertise from her career and academic life, from working on a project restocking libraries in post-revolution Romania to becoming an informed advocate of library practice through postgraduate study.

Recognising Possibilities

It is a worthy exercise to look at the balance of our skills, particularly given the diverse roles encompassed by ‘information professions’ and the scarcity of the term ‘librarian’ in job listings. This was a common thread among the speakers and interestingly, Sarah Smyth shared in her presentation an illustration of this emerging reality via the blog post by Mia Breitkopf, ‘61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads’. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and we are now experiencing the information profession at its most diverse. We need to be equipped for professional practice in all its guises-libraries and library related roles are changing at a rate analogous to the chicken-and-egg scenario.

What emerged most for me from this event is not just celebrating success but the journey towards it. Simon referred to a library and information career path as a visual equivalent of the London Underground map - there are so many destinations, junctions and opportunities to re-route that no two professionals’ paths could possibly be the same. Benefits of attending an event like this include networking with a pool of people from different information professions. A strange sense of like-mindedness amongst diversity, regional networking events can cement a feeling of support rather than competition within the information community. Whatever course/membership/professional recognition route you choose, relish the possibilities on your path of development.


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