Reflection (in Norway)

Last week I passed revalidation of my CILIP Chartership. The process was simple and all done through the CILIP VLE. I did it in an afternoon. Quick and pain-free!

I hadn’t used the VLE before, as I submitted my Chartership portfolio just before they changed the regulations. At first I struggled to work out where to populate my online portfolio, but I think that was simply because I hadn’t used it before. If you were using it as a CPD log to record your activities, I can see that the revalidation process would be very simple indeed. As it was, I uploaded details of my CPD activities, and write a short reflective statement on them. There is a PDF guide on the VLE too, which takes you through it step-by-step.

You only need 20 hours of CPD activities, which when you start adding everything up isn’t very much. I had more than was necessary, and was therefore able to cherry-pick the activities which fit best the criteria for my statement.The statement is only 250 words, compared to 1000 for Chartership, so ditch any descriptive writing and stick purely to reflection. This is easier when you consider you have a log of your activities for the assessor to refer to.

Having revalidated a year after submitting my Chartership portfolio, it was an interesting experience to reflect on my first bit-more-than-a-year in this job role. I have done a lot of CPD through work to get myself up to speed with healthcare libraries and information, and I am glad to cement that through my revalidation achievement.

Targeted marketing strategies that work: a CILIP PPRG event

Earlier this month I attended the CILIP Publicity & Public Relations Group (PPRG) event Targeted marketing strategies that work. It was a fantastic event, celebrating great marketing success stories from public and academic libraries.

Mist on the way to Birmingham

Mist on the way to Birmingham

I began my day earlier than usual (though it only seems early now I’m no longer commuting), and headed to my train to Birmingham New Street. I have only been to Birmingham once before, for Library Camp in 2011, so I was pleased there was time in the evening to visit the new, state-of-the-art Library of Birmingham.

The day consisted of several presentations on a variety of marketing campaigns, as well as presentation of the Marketing Excellence Awards. I have created a Storify of the tweets from the day:

[View the story “#PPRG13 Targeted marketing strategies that work” on Storify]

Using social media for promotion and reach

Fifty Shades of Devon Libraries, Lynda Bowler

Social media as a tool for marketing and promotion was a running theme of the day, and most of the questions following the presentations were about this. Lynda Bowler presented how Devon Libraries used social media, in particular Twitter, in a targeted bid to increase membership by 1,000 in the first week, and 3,000 overall in February 2013 as part of their National Libraries Day campaign.

The statistics were really impressive, with their targets far exceeded and over a million ‘impressions’ that month. Lynda emphasised a need not to get hung up on number of followers, or number of retweets, and that instead it is about your reach and engaging. The tweet that created the most buzz, about the number of times Fifty Shades of Grey has been borrowed in Devon, was picked up by BBC Devon radio!

What we can learn from commercial marketing
Enhancing perception and engagement at the University of Manchester Library, Penny Hicks

Before beginning her presentation, Penny, who is Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications at the University of Manchester Library, admitted to the audience she is not a librarian, but is instead from a commercial marketing background. It was refreshing to hear an outsider’s perspective on library marketing, and interesting to hear how her assumptions sometimes clashed with librarians’.

She headed the Eureka Innovation Challenge, which challenged students to come up with an idea to improve the Library, with money set aside to implement the idea and a cash prize of £1000 to the winner. What I really took away from this presentation was not to be limited by traditional ways of doing things, and to approach communications not from top-down but instead from your audience’s perspective (for example, their Library top tips were not that successful, as they were the librarians’ tips, not the students’).

Strategic marketing on a limited budget
Bases loaded: setting up for success, Jo Cornish, Hertfordshire Libraries

Jo set up the Library Youth Consultant Project, a team of young volunteers who order and promote books they think would appeal to their peers. Jo’s demonstration of strategic marketing with a limited budget, using the baseball analogy of loading bases, was really effective. Without big hitters, baseball teams can score runs by loading the bases with players, strategically scoring runs rather than hitting home runs:

  1. With the Youth Consultant Project, materials and time was the first base. The materials were professionally designed, and in plenty of time to ensure professional-looking promotion was available for the author event to promote the stock selected by the volunteers.
  2. Secondly, Herts libraries worked with their partners, such as the Volunteer Centre, school librarians and Youth Connexions, which allowed for marketing they couldn’t have done just by themselves.
  3. Thirdly social media and online promotion were harnessed for free, accessible promotion, but with the caveat that the message must be intriguing and inviting in an onslaught of online information.
  4. Finally, the role we have as ambassadors to ensure people understand what libraries are for.

Jo’s presentation, and approach to marketing, was clear and straight-forward, and to be honest inspirational!

Co-ordinated marketing to raise awareness of resources
Discover the Library! Libraries and learning innovation at Leeds Metropolitan University, Julie Cleverley

Last year, Leeds Metropolitan University library embarked on a targeted marketing strategy to raise awareness and usage of Discover, their resource discovery system. Library staff were involved in the implementation, such as choosing a name for the service, which empowered them to train students in its use. Promotion included training for academic staff both within the library and in departments, and at university events like the Fresher’s festival, along with promotional materials.

Since the campaign, the number of negative comments in the 2013 National Student Survey was down. The library have also found the use of different databases has been shaken up, which is great news for lesser used (and therefore more expensive-per-use) databases.

Wine and bubbly to celebrate the Marketing Excellent Awards

Cake and bubbly to celebrate the Marketing Excellent Awards

After a break for cake and bubbly, the Marketing Excellence Awards were presented, and we heard a little bit from each of the winners. Particularly interesting was Loughborough University Library’s ability to turn the temporary closure of the library building for refurbishment into a real ‘good news story’ and buzz of excitement, through a co-ordinated approach to allay concerns, outline the services available through the closure, and share the benefits of the refurbishment.

The presentations all highlighted the importance of laying the groundwork and preparing in advance. For these projects, it was absolutely vital – as was the need to market in a targeted way to particular groups.

#cpd23 Thing 7 – Real-life networks

I have decided to use this post as a reflection on why I haven’t joined CILIP (sorry!).

Firstly, I just want to say it’s not because I don’t think professional organisations are worthwhile. I think they are, and I am happy to be a part of them (I am a member of SLA Europe).

My main reason is far more practical… Money.

As a Graduate Trainee last year, I was in no way earning nearly enough to be living in Oxford. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend moved to Oxford just before me, so we shared a flat. Even splitting the rent between two meant I rarely had much left over at the end of the month. Paying for CILIP membership, even at student rates (which you can do as a trainee apparently), sadly wasn’t really my priority with my disposable income.

Right now, it’s a similar situation. I am extremely grateful in that I was awarded funding for my Masters, but I have to spend a lot on train tickets to see the boyfriend in Oxford (train travel is so overpriced, damn you privatisation!). Again, CILIP isn’t really a priority; though I must add I have thought about joining many times, and hope to join when I am working full-time.

That being said, I haven’t really thought it through. If I had joined in September 2010, I would have paid student rates and would have already been a member for nearly two years. As it is, I will now have to join, if I wait til I’m in full-time employment, a much higher rate.

I feel the jump in membership fees between student rates and the other categories is huge. This is hard for those of us just starting out, potentially not earning that much. You can see the membership fees here.

Maybe somewhere under there, subconsciously, I feel it’s not value for money. But I can figure that out when I join!

New Professionals Information Day 2011

I attended my first CILIP event on Friday 3rd June, which was the New Professionals Information Day held in London. The event was advertised primarily by social media; I found out about it through Twitter. It meant a pretty early start (I left the house at 6.45am), but was worth it. Apologies, this post is a bit of an essay!

The event was introduced by Kathy Ennis and Lyndsay Rees-Jones, who also informed everyone of the ‘official hashtag’ for the event: #npid2011. Here you can see @CILIPinfo’s tweet archive from the day, containing 585 tweets. They also encouraged anyone who might be live-blogging throughout the day.

The first presentation was from the Keynote Speaker Steve Clarke (@UKSalesMentor). He lives by the mantra “it’s your attitude that determines your altitude”. Steve is part of a team of business mentors who work with business owners to improve their personal and business effectiveness.

He discussed how he discovered that you make the right decisions because of the right attitude, and with that you can pretty much do what you want to do. He also showed how his work in sales is relevant to the library and information profession, as sales is solving a problem. In this way, we’re all in sales, and we need to let people know what we have to offer; without clients, users, readers etc, there isn’t a need for our service.

He then gave us some rather tedious acronyms, but more interestingly some advice on what you can do to stand out from the crowd, including:

The next talk I attended was Getting Involved, led by Bethan Ruddock (@bethanar), involved in several formal and informal professional organisations.

Fundamentally, professional involvement is “engaging with the profession in any way that’s beyond the normal demands of your job”, which is important because when you develop yourself, you are developing the profession.

The first way people usually get involved is through professional organisations, for example CILIP. There are many reasons for getting professional involved, such as peer networks, which enable you to benchmark and share ideas. Another is for opportunities; it’s not what you know, but who you know, and Ned Potter’s blog post here explains this well. Others might be building skills by getting development out of the workplace, for example the cpd23 programme. It also helps employability, as it looks good on your CV, such as getting financial experience by joining committee as treasurer. In terms of how to get professionally involved, the best way is to say yes to any opportunities that arise.

We then had a workshop discussing three themes: involvement experience, boundaries and control, future of the profession. We also wrote on a post-it note the next step in our professional involvement, for example start a blog, or volunteer for committee.

Next, Lyndsay Rees-Jones then presented various ways of Getting Experience. This followed on very closely from the Getting Involved session. We began with her story and experience, and then divided into groups to discuss:

  • Why you might want experience? 
  • Where you might get it? 
  • How to use it?

The main themes that came out were increasing skills and knowledge base, getting a better job, social media and networks.

During lunch, CILIP had tweets featuring the Twitter hashtag displayed on a projection screen, which was very interesting to watch. This time was also a chance to network, though I’m never any good at that!

The next session was Getting a Job, presented by Alex Wilson-Campbell, an independent recruiter and CV writer specialising in jobs in the library and information profession. He gave us the main criteria to consider when job-seeking;

  • What should I consider when job seeking?
  • What exactly is the employer looking for?
  • How can I make my CV stand out, and make a good impression at interview?

Alex advised being aware of your strengths & weaknesses and your skills & qualities, and to think laterally when job hunting. His recruitment agency offers free CV checks and expert advice.

The final session was Getting International with Maria Cotera (@MariaCotera), in my opinion the best of the day and very inspiring. This was less a how-to, more a discussion of what we were interested in and what international experience we already had, and how that might impact on your career; for example, any member of CILIP is automatically a member of IFLA. We then heard from Maria about her work with the Women, information & Libraries Special Interest Group and the African Prisons Project.

After the presentations had finished, we reconvened for a Q&A Panel Session. It was a large group, so I think a lot of people weren’t too keen to ask questions. However, the group heard about different reasons for chartership and the speakers’ experiences of the day.

The day finished with LISNPN drinks in a pub round the corner. A few of the speakers came along too, and I was able to bend Maria’s ear about more of her work in Uganda, and another project she has worked on recently comparing criteria for qualification here and in New Zealand. It was also a great excuse to bother current and past Sheffield students!

CILIP: Framework of Qualifications

On 19th May, I attended, along with some of the trainees, an informative session on CILIP Qualifications, including chartership and certification, run by Michael Martin from CILIP.

Michael began by explaining the difference between the two levels he would be talking about. Certification is for library assistants who have been in the profession some time, whereas chartership is for qualified librarians. Both are essentially different levels of membership to CILIP.

The first steps to either qualification is membership to CILIP, after which you register as a candidate, which costs £25 for certification or £50 for chartership. You then choose a mentor from a list provided by CILIP, and together you design a personal professional development plan (PPDP). The basis of the CILIP qualifications is building a portfolio.  This allows you to demonstrate your learning, and how you have applied valuable knowledge and skills in your workplace. For a chartership application, it would include:

  • Contents page
  • CV (longer than for a job application)
  • PPDP
  • Personal evaluative statement (1000 words)
  • aims & objectives of your organisation
  • structure charts (where you are in your organisation)
  • evidence of participation in the mentor scheme

It is similar for certification, but follows a different template, including a supporting letter.

Michael also listed the criteria that the applications must meet. The criteria for chartership are:

  • to be able to reflect critically on personal performance and evaluate service performance
  • an active commitment to continuing professional development
  • to be able to analyse personal and professional development with reference to experiential and developmental activities
  • a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context

For certification, the criteria are similar:

  • the ability to evaluate personal and service performance
  • to show how your personal, technical and professional skills have developed through training and development activities
  • an appreciation of the role and contribution of libraries and information services in the wider community

Michael then gave advice to those wanting to pursue a CILIP qualification: keep everything! Using a diary, a blog, or whatever suits you, try to keep a record of your evidence to support the criteria. He also advised completing a skills audit.

After the session, an attendee from Staff Development emailed round information about how they can support staff wishing to gain certification, chartership or fellowship from CILIP. Staff can apply to get funding for their submission fee, though not membership fees. They can also provide your training record which lists the courses you have attended, and the Staff Library has copies of ‘Building Your Portfolio’ by Margaret Watson, a book recommended by Michael during the questions and answers time.

It was an interesting session, as I didn’t know what chartership involved, and the other options for library assistants who maybe don’t want to go down the Library School route.