How many things? Only 23.

I’ve pondered this Thing (on mentoring) for a week, partly as I didn’t know what I’d write!

In my current role as Libraries Development Adviser for Wales I’m not working as an actual librarian (*klaxon alert* imposter in the room!). I’ve been in the current role, sans mentor, for almost a shocking seven years. I’m not sure where I’m heading, and I suppose a mentor could help me with that, but from what field would I look for the mentor?

If I wanted to return to working in an actual proper library I would probably need to find a mentor who is in a senior position in a library service (which is ok, as I know lots of them through my job).

But if I was going to go in a different direction (e.g. communications? marketing? research?) I would be better placed looking for someone in those fields.

Through the performance management plan system we have in work I do have to include a career section in the form, and training needs. We are also now working to a nine box grid system, and depending on where you are placed in the gird, different training and development opportunities could be offered. Mentoring is listed as one of the opportunities. But I haven’t really looked into it because I’m kind of happy in my current role and not sure where I’m going to be in 5 or 10 years.

Ultimately, my career path could go wildly different if I forsake librarianship for yoga and become a yoga teacher full time and run off to the hills and set up a retreat centre. That’s my little personal dream shared!

Whilst cogitating this mentor thing I remembered I have some current and former experience of mentors. I’m learning Welsh and have a Welsh mentor in work – a lovely girl called Menna. She’s very good with me and we meet up every fortnight. My division in work has a mentoring scheme for learning Welsh and each year we agree how often we’ll meet, what we’ll do (chat, translate a short email, do stuff that I need to work on etc). I have returned the benefits as I passed on some information which will be useful for her career.

In the yoga world I would consider the tutor who taught me on my teacher training course to be a mentor, and another yoga teacher (who was not only my first ever yoga teacher -other than my Mum! – but also the one who did my final class assessment) and I  have also kept in touch in the last couple of years to share, chat, pass on information etc. In fact, in her most recent email she put “… it’s all part and parcel of us each helping the other when we can. ” That sounds really nice to me. I’m also part of a yoga group locally and whilst none of the other teachers are formally a mentor we all help each other and share information.

And then there’s my supervisor during the PhD process who was a mentor. He helped, supported and advised me, and I did ask his opinion on two jobs which were advertised on the same day – one of which I got!

And going even further back, another former lecturer from DIS (or DILS as it was for me, or CLW if you’re older) advised me to return to research (I was doing a p/t job in a lovely publishing company, and p/t self-employed research work for lecturers in the department) formally and do the research training masters’ followed by a PhD. So I did. And this is where I am! I also worked for him (Prof Hywel Roberts) in my first job on completing the masters’, as a research assistant. I am still in touch with him now so I guess I could approach him informally for advice, should I know what I wanted to ask!

Given that work had blocked Evernote, I looked at it at home. The IT people did say that if, after looking into it at home, I could see valuable ways of using it in work I could apply to get it unblocked.

However, after giving it a go, I have decided it’s not quite right for me right now (sorry Sharon and Sam!). I created notes, tasks, a diary entry (which didn’t look like a diary to me), clipped a picture and had a nosy round. However, I can’t quite see how it would save me time and effort at work or at home.

If I’m at home I don’t tend to use an electronic device to remind me to do things – I save urls in the bookmark bar if I’m keeping them to view for later, and if I come across something suitable for work I just email it to myself which is one click. I can understand that you can save things into Evernote, but, I’d have to then remember when I was in work that I’d got something in Evernote for X project or for so-and-so.

I can appreciate that if you’re researching something you can clip and save all the things you need to in one place and sub folder in Evernote, and you could be typing up conference notes into one folder. But, for me, if I’m researching something when I’m in work I’ll be saving information into a Word document. And I don’t do much research at home. I also don’t always have an electronic device with me in meetings or conferences so tend to use pen & paper for note taking. In some conferences I have used the work laptop to make conference notes, so I could have used it then I suppose. But I can’t see how that would be massively different from just typing the notes into Word.

I can see that if I had a mobile device which was always on and had the widget for that then it could become more useful. But for now, it’s something I’ll leave on one side.

A by-product of doing this thing though, was using a sneak-around system that means you don’t have to create an account just to try a web service out. I was recommended to use Bugmenot – you go to the website, type in the website of the service you want to try, and it gives you a trial login and password. So you can get in, see all the functionality, give it a go, but haven’t had to sign up or create an account. Genius!

This week we’re looking at library qualifications and training.

Discussing the route we took to end up where we are today is the subject of a future ‘Thing’ I believe, so I will try not to stray into that too much here. However, surfice to say I had experience in public and university libraries before beginning my master’s in information and library studies, although they were not graduate traineeship posts.

The Thing10 blog post covers graduate traineeships, masters’ degrees, chartership and certification. Since completing my master’s degree I have not been in a library post that required chartership so this is not something that I have explored in my previous or current jobs. Unless I change jobs I don’t feel that chartership would be beneficial for me right now.

Through the annual performance management plan process where I work I have to keep a portfolio of evidence – I don’t know what CILIP’s chartership portfolio of professional development looks like but after 6 years in this post I have quite a few documents now recording my work, progress, training and evidence of praise etc.

What other qualifications might be appropriate for my current role? Project management is one possible qualification I could look at – PRINCE2 for example is offered by my employer, but it’s finding the time and the resources to undertake this. It’s a 5 day course and would be useful for my current job role as programme manager for the Libraries Inspire strategy.

I’m also personally becoming more interested in communications work, and would possibly explore some sort of training or qualifications in this field. Quite what I don’t know!

Outside of librarianship I recently studied and passed my yoga teacher training diploma with the British Wheel of Yoga. I have to do 15 hours CPD a year to retain my qualified status with the BWY – similar to CILIP requirement I believe? I love racking up my 15 hours and frequently have acquired 30+ hours a year.

Finally, a coincidence. A colleague in work was asked last week if she could confirm what “formally qualified librarian” meant in reference to one of our documents. I asked on Twitter and got a few replies, but she received a reply from CILIP which confirmed that to be formally qualified one has to have completed a CILIP accredited course, at degree level or above.

Here in Wales there are two foundation degrees in information and library studies (at Glyndwr University and Coleg Llandrillo), and an ICTL diploma but as these aren’t yet accredited with CILIP, librarians who complete them don’t officially count as formally qualified librarians.

A chartered librarian is considered to have professional status. I didn’t realise there is a difference between a qualified librarian and a professional librarian.

To confuse the matter more, you can charter with CILIP through their certification process without having a library qualification. But, certification itself does not mean you’re qualified. So you could be certified and chartered, and thus be professional librarian (the chartered bit), but not be a qualified librarian (the accredited course bit).

{July 4, 2012}   Awaiting Evernote (Thing 9)

I’ve had to put Thing 9 on hold (Evernote) as I can’t access it in work as it’s classed as a banned site. I’m discussing this with the powers that be.

I could of course look at it at home and consider if it would be useful for me. Judging by some of the other blog posts on this, and the eulogising from friend/colleague Sharon Crossan, it could be really useful. But then, if I do look at it at home and decide it’s going to be v.useful for me to help organise my work and make notes in conferences, gather info about topics, remove the need for emailing myself links etc, but it remains blocked in work, it won’t be that useful will it?


et cetera