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One of the things I often hear people say when they’re talking about Chartership is that they’re not sure what’s expected of them. Having chartered myself (with a fabulous mentor) and currently mentoring (a brilliant candidate), I have a fair idea of the process, but what really helped me understand what Chartership is really supposed to be was serving on the CILIP Future Skills project board, where I got the chance to discuss the future of CILIP qualifications with massively talented and inspiring people, including the head of the Chartership board.

What came across very clearly from these discussions (both about the current state of Chartership and desired future directions) was the conviction that everyone involved had that the aim of Chartership is to improve the profession by helping individual professionals improve themselves.

Chartership isn’t meant to be a chore. It’s meant to be a tool to help you plan and make the most of your own personal and professional development. It’s not hoops to jump through because CILIP think it’ll be fun to load more work on you and watch you squirm. The goal of Chartership is for you to become a better professional, one who reflects on their learning, performance, and development.

I gave a brief outline on Twitter of what I think of as the 4 stages of Chartership:

1) identify what you need to learn

2) learn it

3) put what you’ve learned into practice in the workplace & profession

4) write down how & why you did 1-3 along with what difference it’s made for you/work, & what you’ll do next. Submit. Celebrate 🙂

To expand:

1) Identify what you need to learn. Since I chartered, the new version of the CILIP PKSB has been released, and Chartership in the future will be encouraging use of this as a self-assessment tool. I’d strongly recommend using it to look at doing a skills audit of what you know now and what you need to know. But it’s not the only thing you should be thinking about. You need to assess your skills against the demands of your role (or desired role) and workplace. Look at your job description and see what bits you’d like to be able to do more of, or do better. Look at your users. Do they have needs you’re not meeting? Could you learn the skills to enable you to meet those needs?

Stick all of this down in your PPDP. This is a living document, and will change as you progress through Chartership. Use it however best suits you to work out a development strategy. You might then need to tidy it up a bit to put in your portfolio – but you might not! A PPDP that shows evidence of use and development is exactly what the assessors are looking for – just make sure it’s comprehensible (expand acronyms, explain colour-coding etc). And the stuff in your PPDP doesn’t have to come from some special bank of development activities you’re doing ‘for Chartership’ – it comes from what you need to do for your own development. Manager given you training goals in your last staff review? PPDP them! Job you want in 5 years require a new skill? Add it to the plan. It’s all about what makes you a better professional – no barriers, no silos.

2) Learn it. I think this is actually the bit of Chartership that daunts people the least. We’re info pros. We do learning. It’s worth remembering, though, that any kind of learning and development counts. I know some people worry that they haven’t been on enough training courses or to enough conferences – but that’s ok. Chartership is all about the ‘why’. Why did you learn this skill from a book instead of going on a course? (‘We didn’t have a training budget’ is a perfectly legitimate answer, by the way).

As long as you give the reasons behind what you do, show that you’ve thought about the why of it all, you will produce the right sort of portfolio. No-one is judging the training and development activities you’ve chosen to do. They’re not going to think ‘oh, well, I don’t think that’s the best resource available on that topic. They should have consulted [x] instead.’ As long as you explicitly state in your portfolio how the development activity relates to a need you identified and what impact undertaking that activity had on you, they will accept that you have selected the most appropriate development method for your needs and circumstances.

3) Put what you’ve learned into practice in the workplace & profession. Knock their socks off.

4) Write down how & why you did 1-3 along with what difference it’s made for you/work, & what you’ll do next. This is a lot less daunting if you do it as you go along! Jo Alcock has created a great template to help with this, and I believe that the new CILIP VLE will be tailored to help with ongoing recording and reflection, too. Reflective writing can be a bit of a pain if you’re not used to it (or not naturally that way inclined), but remember that you don’t have to produce torrents of deathless prose. Here’s my suggested tool for relatively quick and easy reflection.

Taken from a presentation I gave at SLA2012 in Chicago.

Taken from a presentation I gave at SLA2012 in Chicago.

There’s no one way to produce a great Chartership portfolio. It’s a reflection of you as a practitioner. So there are no hard and fast rules about size, content, layout – it’s left to you and your professional judgement. The portfolio is your chance to show how good you are at selecting and organising information. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by some mystic idea of ‘what the assessors expect to see’. Think about their information needs. What do you particularly want to convey to them? What do they especially need to know? Are you providing the right information, in the right quantities and the right format to allow them to assess your application? Are you showing the judgement expected of an information professional?

(But you’re not expected to magically know these things! Asking for peer support and advice is part of being an info pro. Your mentor, Candidate Support Officer, the CILIP quals team, the mailing lists, your colleagues – they’re all there to help. And they’ve all needed to ask for help too! They’re a resource, so use them as you need to.)

Treat the Chartership process as an opportunity for you to have some quality ‘me and my development time’, a chance to have someone chivvy you into reflecting about what you do, and a chance to celebrate your successes – and even if you never get round to handing that portfolio in, you’ll be a better professional at the end of it. And that’s something worth celebrating 🙂

I blogged recently about what CILIP Chartership – by which I really meant the process of putting together my Chartership portfolio – meant to me. Well, as of yesterday, it means that I am now a chartered librarian! Hurrah and jubilation etc etc 😀

Once the excitement had died down a little, I started to think about what being a Chartered member of CILIP means to me. It’s something I’ve been working towards my entire career – I can’t remember if the statement ‘I intend to work towards CILIP chartership’ was on the application for my graduate traineeship, but it’s certainly been on every application form and piece of professional assessment since.

So, now I’m there. What do I do with it? Is this the pinnacle of my professional achievement?

Hopefully not! After all, there’s still Revalidation, and Fellowship somewhere in the misty future. And I’ve expressed an interest in becoming a Chartership mentor, so there’s plenty of room for personal and professional development within the CILIP framework for me yet.

But what does it mean in practical terms? Am I, as @mariekeguy suggested, now ‘always expected to know what I’m talking about’? Do people expect more from Chartered Librarians? Does it have an impact on how you behave professionally? Or on how people expect you to behave? I guess I’ll find out for myself soon enough – but any insights you want to share in the comments are very welcome!

One immediate effect, by the way – a huge rush of affection towards all my wonderful twitter peeps, who were (as always) so immediate and unstinting with their congratulations. Did I mention at any point that you guys rock?

Well, the portfolios are done, bound, and in the post, and it’s time to reflect on what Chartership and the chartering process have meant to me.

Several people have asked me about this already, and I think I’ve tended to be fairly vague and desultory – ‘well, it’s something you’ve got to do, isn’t it? just a few hoops to jump through… but not too bad overall’. But do I really feel like this about Chartership? And, if so, why did I do it at all?

Now, my mentor was a lovely, lovely lady, who I really enjoyed spending time with, but this doesn’t tell the whole story of why I found the mentor relationship to be by far the most valuable facet of the Chartership process. Why? Because of the huge importance of simply having someone to tell me that it’s ok – nay, required! – to say good things about yourself.

I have problems with this, probably a result of an upbringing in which there was no middle ground between becoming modesty and vulgar boasting, but I’ve been getting better over the years, and have generally come to manage to admit when I’m not so shoddy at summat. So why do I – and others! – still have this problem when it comes to saying that we’re actually really quire decent info profs?

Well, guys, I’m afraid it’s all your fault. Yup, this is one I’m putting squarely on the shoulders of my peer group and social networks. Not because you’re mean and horrible, but because you’re just all so darn good at things!

We measure success, not against some abstract ideal, but from a concrete comparison of our achievements with those of our peers. As the general level of achievement rises, so do the criteria considered to denote “success”. and boy-oh-boy, are you lot a load of over-achievers 😉

Just from memory, and in the last few weeks alone, people in my Twitter network have won prizes and awards; have got exciting new jobs and promotions; have given papers and written articles; have got distinctions and started PhDs. My peer group is enthusiastic, intelligent, active, engaged. They serve on project boards, plan conferences, and write manifestos. They write ridiculously thoughtful and erudite blog posts. They edit journals and run workshops and make websites and implement innovative services and oh my guts and garters do these people ever sleep?

And yes, ok, I do some of those things too. But they’ve become the norm, which in some ways is such a brilliant, wonderful, inspiring thing that it makes me want to cry a bit and give you all a great big hug. But it also means that it can be easy to overlook the smaller achievements; to count yourself as insignificant among this gallery of stars, and we need the positive reinforcement of feeling that we have achieved to continue achieving.

So that is what Chartership has done for me. It has given me a still, small place outside the glamour and pressures of my peer group, and allowed me to measure my achievements against myself. It’s given me the chance and the encouragement to say ‘I done good’, and to remember that, sometimes, it’s about what the profession can give me, as well as about what I can give the profession. There may have been some hoop-jumping involved, but those hoops have helped to strengthen and affirm my sense of place within the profession. So there may have been swearing and grumbling and groaning, but I’m glad I did it. [DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to edit/delete/throw a hissy fit if I don’t pass ;)]

I was supposed to be submitting my chartership, via the trial e-portfolio system, before 31/12/09. This is not going to happen.

I am meeting my mentor tomorrow, and I was supposed to have done a CV, an updated PPDP, and a draft evaluative statement. Most of this is not going to happen.

Why? I jokingly remarked that it was because I was too busy developing professionally to spend time on my portfolio. While this was a flippant remark, it does have a grain of truth. Since I agreed to submit by the end of December, I have become more involved with SLA E, and my work as co-chair of the Early Careers Committee has increased. We have also been very busy at Mimas, with all my projects taking off at once!

Another contributing factor has been my frustration with the e-portfolio system. I have found it very un-intuitive to use, and found the lack of documented help/instructions very frustrating. I’m normally quite keen to be an early adopter of these things, but just found that I couldn’t get to grips with this system.

After contacting some other people who were using the system, and finding that they wanted support too, I set up the ning, where we could share ideas and tips. This sense of having a peer group did help, and I started to feel better about the system.

Then I tried using it again. It might just be me, but I found that it was really detracting from my chartership experience. I had no feeling of something coming together, just of odd pieces of evidence stuck on at various times. I found that I was really dreading coming to look at it, and really wasn’t enjoying doing any chartership work. So I have decided that I probably won’t be submitting using that system.

I hadn’t realised quite how stressed I was, both by the e-portfolio system and the December deadline, until I decided that I wasn’t going to make it. I hate missing deadlines – it feels like such a failure! – but in this case it’s actually an enormous relief.

What this extra time (I’m hoping to submit around March/April) will give me is a chance to completely revisit how I am thinking about my chartership. I realised that while some of my disjointed feel was down to the e-portfolio system, much of it was due to the fact that I didn’t have a coherent plan for my portfolio. I knew in a vague way what should be in it, but I’d just been picking things out as I went along. I hadn’t been using my PPDP properly, as a basis for the structure. Frankly, I didn’t have a structure! I’d been assuming that as long as I was doing the development activities and the reflection, that the portfolio would pretty much organise itself. I was very, very wrong.

So, what I will have for my mentor tomorrow is this blog post, explaining why I don’t have any of the things I was supposed to prepare. But I do now have a better appreciation of what is involved in putting together a chartership portfolio, and am feeling geared-up to get going with it. And a little enthusiasm is worth a boat-load of paperwork, right?

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