This week I have been involved with two events. On Tuesday we ran the first of two Promoting Reading courses with Anne Harding. This attracted children's librarians from public libraries and school librarians. Then on Wednesday the Career Development Group Y&H ran Your Guide to Chartership at Sheffield Hallam.
At both events I was able to say a few words about how SINTO could be of help to individual librarians. SINTO is of course a co-operative of library services and much of what we do is aimed at organisations - but I do like to remind people that SINTO can help them as individuals with their own Continuing Professional Development. This applies to staff who are on the CILIP Certification or Chartership route and also to anyone who is revalidating or generally wants to develop their professional skills.
There are two main areas where SINTO can help. First there is the programme of training and CPD events. We run events that are related to the training needs of librarians (as identified by our Training Group), are reasonably priced and are local. Information is available on our website.
Some concern has been expressed about SINTO marketing courses directly to individuals rather than through the libraries. There is an understandable concern that SINTO might raise expectations which the library is not able to afford and that individuals might ask to go on courses that do not fit in with the training needs of the organisation. However, all professional staff should have their own Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) and be using this to identify their training & development needs. They should be activley looking out for seminars and events (as well as other training opportunities) and discussing this with their training officer or line manager. There is not an open ended commitment for your employer to meet all your needs especially if these relate to your future career progression rather than the immediate needs of your job, but there should be a dialogue. In addition many individuals accept that they should invest in their own CPD and may want to purchase training for themselves.
The second area where SINTO can help is in the use of Web 2.0 tools to develop a community of practice. The value of the SINTO wiki and blog is that they provide a wider view of the profession. In the Chartership seminar several speakers stressed that Chartership candidates needed to show a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context. A common reason for failure was that candidates appeared to be too parochial and not aware of what was happening beyond their own library. And this applies to more senior professional staff as well. Everyone should be aware of what is happening in other sectors and at a regional or national level. The SINTO wiki provides a forum for librarians to share information and engage with others while in my blog I try to provide a local perspective on general professional issues.
Individuals are very welcome to use these tools. Contributing to these sites can be used as evidence of professional commitment. You don't have to speak on behalf of your library service; although you should always be acting in a professional manner in anything you do say. Make it your New Year's resolution to get involved with your local community.