Happy birthday blog!

Happy birthday blog, have some giant Norwegian cake

According to WordPress, it has been three years since I registered this blog. Happily, this coincides with being one year into my first professional post, and uklibchat’s suggestion on Twitter to complete the phrase “When I started out in LIS I never thought I’d…”

When I started out in LIS I never thought I’d…

  • want to pursue a teaching qualification
  • have ‘marketing’ as part of my job title
  • visit Chicago and Norway for library-related adventures

Since starting this blog as a Graduate Trainee, I’ve completed a Masters degree in Librarianship at the University of Sheffield and spent a year as a subject librarian.

My role involves two things I never imagined myself doing as a Graduate Trainee: teaching, and marketing. However, over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered teaching thrills me, and marketing fascinates me.


My current job involves an awful lot of information skills teaching. Even just one year ago, standing in front of a room of people and talking was the worst thing I could imagine. Now it’s is an extremely regular occurrence. I’m hoping to do a qualification to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. This would improve my teaching practice, and would also formally recognise the amount of teaching I do to support students.

For those reading this who are just starting in LIS, I’d recommend getting as much practice as you can. If you work in HE, FE, school, law libraries, whatever; help out with inductions. Seek out opportunities for presenting. Even if you hate it. Trust me, it gets a lot easier the more you do! LIS degrees don’t often cover teaching and pedagogy in much detail, so the more experience you get early on, the easier it will be in a professional post.


Being a member of the Special Libraries Association has taught me a lot about marketing. I think academic libraries can learn a lot from special libraries in terms of marketing, not least in how prominent marketing is for special librarians. SLA events, talks and conference sessions gave me the library marketing bug, and I’m now marketing assistant in my library. It’s a lot of fun, especially being involved with many of the new ideas and developments going on.

Marketing, for me, is all about two things: communication, and common sense. Again, it’s something LIS degrees may not cover (which in my opinion is mad, as every member of staff is involves in marketing the library, and it permeates everything you do. But, that’s a whole blog post in itself!).

International librarianship

Last year I won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) to visit Chicago for the SLA annual conference. It was an amazing, life-changing opportunity to attend a fantastic conference in a country I’ve longed to visit. As I said under marketing, being part of the SLA community changed my approach to my career and development.

Likewise, this year I received ERASMUS funding through my workplace to attend Staff Mobility Week at the University of Bergen, Norway. This was so rewarding, and I cannot emphasise enough the benefit of visiting other libraries, other sectors and networking with international colleagues – you’re forced to articulate why you do things a certain way, and can really get an objective view on your own practices.

If you’re interested…

If you’re interested in the kind of teaching librarians do, the best place to start is with the concept of information literacy. Of particular note are the SCONUL 7 Pillars of IL.

If you’re interested in library marketing, there is a wealth of information out there. I’ve found Ned Potter’s book The Library Marketing Toolkit (2012, Facet) really helpful, for which there is a companion website. Bethan Ruddock’s book The New Professional’s Toolkit (2012, Facet) also has a helpful chapter on marketing.

If you’re interested in international librarianship, I have found my membership to the CILIP special interest group International Library & Information Group really valuable.


How time flies!

Chartership progress

I have been working on Chartership with CILIP for a few months now, so wanted to write a post on how it’s going. Last week I spoke at a CILIP Thames Valley chartership meet-up about my experiences as a candidate, which was a good opportunity for reflection on what I’ve achieved so far, what has worked, and what hasn’t.


My PPDP (Personal Professional Development Plan) is possibly longer than it needs to be, but I’ve been approaching it as a working document – adding things here and there, including more than I’ll need for the final portfolio. It’ll be much easier to take things out at the end than add stuff.

A good piece of advice came out of the CILIP TV event, which I can really encourage and have found so helpful in building my PPDP:

Think about what you do in your everyday job – you do something every day which you can use in your portfolio #cilipTV#chartership

— Natalie Guest (@nataliepicken) September 4, 2013

I’ve made my PPDP quite worked-based, as during this first year of my first professional post, I’ve learnt so much and attended so much training. I’ve also made points quite specific. This has been a conscious choice after learning about SMART goals at a training event for staff annual reviews. For me, the more specific and attainable the goal, the more likely I am to actually achieve it. For example, I am more likely to ‘do online tutorial for using the internet for history research [link]‘, than ‘look into resources for subject liaison‘.

Find a support group – or build your own!

I am fortunate that the Library I work in really encourages Chartership, meaning there is a structured programme. There are also three other candidates working towards Chartership, so we have a ready-made group. If you don’t have others doing Chartership at your work place, there are plenty of other support networks available.

  • The #chartership hashtag is a great collection of others going through the process, as well as those who have completed it to offer advice and answers. There is a monthly #chartership chat, but the hashtag is also in use between these. I’ve found it helpful for getting opinions, and for reassurance!
  • The Jiscmail mailing list for Chartership is also invaluable. The candidate support officers often respond with advice and official information.
  • I’ve found face-to-face events, such as a the CILIP TV one last week, useful to compare and contrast progress. I’ve attended two Chartership events, and both have had past portfolios to leaf through – always helpful! These events are advertised on Jiscmail lists, so it’s worth signing up to a few that interest you.

The four of us doing Chartership at work meet for monthly meetings with a member of senior management to discuss a chapter of the New Professional’s Handbook by Corrall and Brewerton. As enlightening and informative as these sessions have been, I am not recommending this particular book – Published in 1999, it’s fair to say it’s now out-of-date! Nevertheless, these regular meetings were a great chance for the four of us to catch up and compare notes. This led to our arranging monthly Chartership workshops. We’ve booked a PC lab so we can work on our portfolios, chat about progress, and share useful information we’ve got from our respective mentors. Blocking out time like this, setting it aside for just Chartership work, and getting away from my desk, has seen my productivity soar!

I hope sharing these thoughts are helpful to my fellow Chartership candidates out there, or those considering starting (if you are, read up on the upcoming changes here). Let me know your hints and tips in the comments if you’d like to share!