Monday, 30 April 2012

CDG London and South East AGM and CILIP Future Skills Project

Last Tuesday (24th April) was the AGM for the Career Development Group, London and South East Division. It was held in the Weston Room of the Maughan Library, King’s College London – an absolutely beautiful room, a great setting for the meeting! I managed to chat to quite a few people too which was really nice.

After the usual business of the AGM was done and dusted we had a talk from Bethan Ruddock on the CILIP Future Skills Project. I found this really interesting as I hadn’t known a great deal about the project before. It is being implemented in order to recognise the varied skills of the library and information profession and establish a body of professional knowledge that is fit for purpose.

There is a diverse range of people involved in the project, including both CILIP and non-CILIP staff. Part one of the project has already been completed: this involved finding out what members actually wanted in a body of professional knowledge. The idea that it should be fit for purpose came up high on the list, as did the importance of the BPK meeting the needs of members. The BPK should be clear, relevant and comprehensive, be professional and clearly define relevant skills.

With that in mind, part two of the programme – the consultation – began. The draft Body of Professional Knowledge has been presented in the form of a wheel, which I found interesting. I liked that a section had been left with a question mark, indicating that the consultation isn’t yet complete, and is still open to suggestions.

The Future Skills Project will look at reviewing the qualifications framework, as well as looking at continuing professional development. There is a suggestion that CPD might become compulsory. Depending on how this is implemented I think this could be a good idea.

Bethan emphasised that the importance of reflecting and continuing professional development would remain. I was interested in what she had to say about Chartership as it is likely I will want to register within the next few years. It appears that either chartering now under the old system, or waiting and chartering under the new, will both be fine although any changes will take a few years to implement. Personally I am not in a hurry to charter so I think I will hang on and see what the changes will be. It might be the case that chartering would require the individual to set personal targets to improve within a particular range of skills. In terms of personal development this sounds brilliant, but it might cause problems for employers who would prefer Chartership to indicate a defined standard.

There were some interesting points raised during the question-and-answer session after the talk. In an attempt to involve those librarians and information professionals who aren’t CILIP members, those involved in the project will be talking to other organisations such as the SLA (Special Libraries Association). They will also be having discussions with employers to find out what they want and expect from LIS professionals. Another issue raised was that around half of the skills in the draft BPK were general transferable skills, such as communication and teamwork. Might someone look at the list and think “I have half the skills on that list – I could work in a library”? Personally, I’m not sure about this: all careers need generic skills as well as specialist ones, and I personally wouldn’t think that I could do any job just because I have those general skills. Having said that, I can understand this concern in the current climate and the very real issue of librarians being replaced by volunteers.

I found the talk really interesting, and I feel I know a bit more about the Future Skills project and what it’s trying to achieve. Thanks to Bethan for coming along and explaining it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night 2012 took place yesterday, 23rd April: the supposed birth and death date of Shakespeare, and the death date of Spanish novelist Cervantes. After hearing about last year’s celebrations, I decided I wanted to be involved this year and signed up to be a book giver.

Book givers are sent twenty-four copies of a book, chosen from a list of popular titles, and give them away to others on World Book Night. I was lucky enough to get my first choice, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The idea is to get people reading and encourage them to discover new authors. I have always loved reading and was really excited about the chance to introduce new people to a book they have never read.

Why Rebecca?
I chose Rebecca, firstly because it was my favourite novel from the list: a hard decision, since other choices included Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. However I ultimately decided that I loved Rebecca the most. I also hoped to assist with changing the perception of Daphne du Maurier. Though she’s a popular and acclaimed author, I don’t feel that she’s given enough credit as an author of ‘proper literature’. She is often labelled as a romance novelist but there is so much more to her work.

Giving my books away
I thought of a few different ways I might give away my books, but ultimately decided to hand them out at my local London Underground station. Unimaginative it might be, but I knew I’d be sure of catching a lot of people, and I thought I might attract some non-readers. I headed off with my (rather heavy) bag of books and stood by the entrance to the tube, attempting to attract bleary-eyed commuters with my free books.

I managed to get rid of all my books in about five minutes. I attracted tons of suspicious looks – I find Londoners are generally distrustful of anything free, particularly on a Monday morning when brain function hasn’t kicked in properly. As a regular commuter myself, I can sympathise with this feeling! Many people walked by in a world of their own, but others made a beeline for me when they saw me waving my copies of Rebecca around.

I think I could have planned my giveaway better in all honesty – perhaps I could have printed out some bookmarks or got hold of a poster (though I don’t know how TfL staff would feel about that!) to better explain what was happening. Of course, those who picked up a copy of the book would have read the back and understood what World Book Night was but I bet many of the people who walked past me were wondering what on earth that crazy girl was doing giving out books. They probably thought I was distributing some bizarre religious tract. One man actually asked me if I had written it myself – he thought I was trying to flog my own book. In a way this was rather funny (why yes, I wrote Rebecca myself, certainly) but it does show that it wasn’t immediately obvious what was going on!

One thing I was pleased about was that at least half of the copies went to men. Maybe this is because men are more confident about picking up free stuff, but in any case I hope that these men read and enjoy Rebecca, proving that du Maurier isn’t just for women.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience and I hope I managed to brighten up the first day of the week for a few people. I certainly did this for myself – I can’t remember ever feeling that good on a Monday morning before! I definitely want to sign up to be a giver next year.