Monday, April 20, 2009

The "essence" of chartership

I've had my first sensible Chartership question via email, and I thought I should stop messing about with book cart drill teams and wannbe teddy bears for a minute and post something that might be useful. 

Michael Hopwood emailed me last week and said

One topic I would love to hear about is “the essence of Chartership” – now that you’ve got the portfolio done, I’d be really interested in hearing your perspective on what it demonstrates, what was the main goal for you in getting Chartered?

I think Chartership is a very personal process, having a PPDP that you write yourself in order to fill in gaps you recognise in your own knowledge makes the whole portfolio very much tailored to your own development as you see it. So I suppose the "essence" of chartership is personal development, and the recognition of your own need for it. 

There has been debate about what a LIS qualification should teach you and there is a school of thought that believes a structured course (such as a LIS Masters) which can tell a future employer what a candidate actually knows, and what training they have undertaken is more valuable than a qualification which could mean very different types of training and development in a range of different areas and be vastly different from one candidate to the next. 

I suppose this is why the "old school" route to chartership required you to have completed a LIS masters before you could Charter. It would then be clear that you had the appropriate academic background and the content of your course of study could be known by anyone interested in what you had learned. 

I personally took the "extrordinary" route to chartership, which means I do not have a LIS degree or Masters, but I do have considerable experience of Library work, and I also had to show evidence in my portfolio 2 years of professional development instead of 1. 

I have to admit, I learned almost nothing about cataloguing and classification during my chartership, it wasn't a section in my PPDP, so I didn't look at it (unless it came up as a relevant point in relation to something esle, such as social bookmarking and tag systems). This is just one area which many people may expect a professional LIS qualification to cover, which mine certainly didn't in any detail. I suppose my previous experience in jobs which involved these skills was enough to convince CILIP I did not need further development in this area at this stage in my career. The PPDP in my Portfolio at the time of submission, however, does identify further cat and class experience as a future development need. (Just to clarify - I have not heard yet whether or not I have passed, but my PPDP was accepted with no specific cat and class section included).

The PPDP is also a "living" document, even after CILIP have accepted it when you register, you can still tweak it during evidence collection. And I'm sure I rearranged my section headings at least 5 times during the 2 years I was collecting evidence. It is all very much a personal thing. 

To me, Chartership was mostly about learning things I had not had the chance (or in some cases the inclination) to learn at other times in my career so far.

Micheal also said:

Right now my professional development feels very “bitty” and it would be good to see an example of how someone else drew together all the threads

I felt very much like this most of the way through the process. And this is where a good mentor is really really valuable. My mentor was very encouraging whenever I questioned what I was doing. She was able to stand back from it all and pull out the areas which fitted together and the areas where I was getting off track and re-direct me. There were points during evidnece collection where it looked like I would have to have many many small sections of evidence to cover many many individual points on the PPDP because I was finding it hard connecting things together. In the end I had only 4 sections: 

  •  My role in the organisational context
  • Professional skills development (by far the biggest section)
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • The wider professional context
These were deliberatly very broad headings to allow me to cover what ended up being an ENORMOUS PPDP without needing complex indexing and cross referencing throughout the portfolio. I used mind maps in the end to show the breadth covered in each section, and demonstrate how the evidence met the assessment criteria and the BPK. 

As for my main goal in getting chartered (appologies for leaving this till the end when Michael asked about it near the beginning) it changed a few times during the process. 

To start with the goal was to get chartered. Thats all it was. But as I started to analyse which areas of my skill set really needed working on, the goal switched a few times between specific skills. My 2 BIG personal goals were to get better at presenting and teaching (I pretty much sucked at both at the outset) and to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of working relationships. It became more and more important to me during the process that I was more aware of the inter-personal stuff, such as supervisory skills, team work etc. Having had a few issues (not serious ones) in the past with colleagues who I have mis-understood, or who have mis- understood me, the more training I did that related to these issues (for example the theory of learning styles) and that could be applied in practical ways to day to day work the more it struck me that I could change a few things about some of the ways in which I work with people. I think this was the most interesting part of Chartership, the insight I gained into myself as a person, and into how others might percieve the way I work. 

The 2 years of evidence collection were only the start of these two developments. I am now looking for and taking opportunities to practice presenting and teaching wherever I can, and I am still looking at my working habits and the ways in which I relate to colleagues. They are now part of much longer term development goals, but they were largely brought to my attention as being my main personal and professional development concerns during Chartership. 

I'm not sure if I would have got that out of a LIS degree or Masters. And now I will never know, because once I am Chartered I plan to complete the regular CPD required by CILIP to maintain Chartered status, but any additional study, postgraduate qualifications, etc. can be focussed outside of the traditional LIS courses.  

I'm not sure if that answers Michael's question, please feel free to comment on your own experiences and maybe answer his question yourself in doing so. . .


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Katy! A much appreciated and very thorough answer.

Especially interesting for me to compare as I went the "traditional" LIS Masters route.

I'll bear in mind a lot of what you said when I prepare to meet my mentor for the first time.

Katharine said...

Thanks Michael,
Good luck, I hope it goes well with your mentor.