I received an interesting and I suspect typical query this week. A library assistant in a local college wanted some advice on how to progress their career in librarianship. Steve has several years experience in various libraries and last year he obtained an NVQ3 in Information & Library Services. He was now wondering about his next step. Should he take a distance learning degree in librarianship with Northumbria or Aberystwyth Universities, or should he go for CILIP Certification (ACLIP) followed by Chartered membership (MCLIP)? Anyone with two years experience of library and information work can submit a portfolio for ACLIP and then with a further two years experience you can apply for Chartered status.
I issued a health warning that I was in no way qualified to give career advice but was happy to share some ideas with him. I pointed out that the ACLIP route was designed with people like him in mind and provided a logical route to accredit the knowledge and skills he had built up and provide a pathway to gaining professional qualifications. A distance learning degree was a step up to another level but would teach him a body of professional knowledge and give him a degree level qualification which could help when seeking jobs in the future.
I suspect that the key factors in his decision will be cost, time and the amount of commitment to formal study he is able to give. It may also depend on whether Steve sees his career as a steady progression through different levels of the profession or if he wants to jump to a new career path. In either case I wish him well.
One strong piece of advice I did give was to consider CILIP membership. CILIP provides a wide range of information, advice and support to anyone who wants to progress their career in librarianship. It a 'chicken and egg' situation - if you don't see yourself as having a library career then you are unlikely to think about the 'professional association', but you then miss out on the support that CILIP can provide (at a price, but nothing is for nothing!) There is a perception among some people that CILIP is a club for the established members of the profession and does not support 'new professionals'. This came out recently when CILIP advertised for librarians to join the project board to run a major consultation exercise. CILIP said it was looking for people with considerable experience of running projects and some people objected that this meant that younger members of the profession were excluded. CILIP President Biddy Fisher (who until recently ran the learning centres at Sheffield Hallam University) defended this, saying that the consultation exercise would welcome input from everyone but the project board must consist of people who could show that they could run projects. (SINTO is planning to get Biddy to give a talk to SINTO in which she will explore the contribution of new and old professionals).
What do other SINTO members think? Would you have given Steve the same advice? Are there any other routes Steve could follow? Have you had a similar experience? Let me know and I will share them with him.