Monday, 6 April 2015

Government "librarians" and CILIP chartership - why bother?

At the recent Government Knowledge and Information Management (GKIM) conference (25 March 2015 1) I attended a Table discussion session facilitated by David Smith (Head of Profession, Department for Communities and Local Government). David is also a committee member of CILIP's special interest group for Government Information (CILIP GIG). David posed the question "Will CILIP Chartership get you any further, and will it improve your pay?".

This proved to be quite a lively discussion, and the 20 minutes allocated could have been filled two or three times over. Here's a summary from my notes of the discussion, with apologies for any omissions or misrepresentations.


In the past Charterhsip 2 used to be a more frequent requirement within Government library posts in initial recruitment, and for progression to more senior grades. This is no longer the case.

Does Charterhip improve your pay?

Possibly. It can do, in some departments (e.g. BIS - Business, Innovation and Skills; FCO - Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and GCHQ - Goverment Communications Headquarters). However, many departments no longer require Chartership for career progression within their KIM structures or as a trigger for enhanced salary through qualification recognition.

Does Chartership get you any further?

Possibly / probably! Chartership is a clear demonstration that you:
  • are a committed professional,
  • take your professional development seriously,
  • actively reflect on your professional contribution to your organisation,
  • operate to a clear set of ethics and values, and
  • work to recognise your continuing development needs and to achieve these.
All of these will stand you in excellent stead for internal job opportunities, or indeed if you decide to seek roles outside of GKIM.

It was also noted that in these times of cutbacks, efficiency and austerity measures, Chartership may assist staff in retaining their posts when cuts are being made. Where two individuals are being compared and where both have similar performance and experience levels, then tangible proof of professionalism as evidenced through Chartership, may be the deciding factor. It could be the tie-breaker that makes the difference! And if it isn't Chartership directly then it could be Revalidation - a clear demonstration of regular / annual continuing professional development, professional growth, career planning and reflection.

Challenges to Chartering?

A numbers of colleagues around the table were contemplating working towards Chartership and cited a number of barriers to commencement or completion:
  • length of time since qualification. Where do I start, where do I draw the line?
  • lack of support from their employer and peer group, with additionally perceived difficulties of finding a mentor, and maintaining the momentum with the mentoring relationship;
  • lack of time, timetabling issues;
  • lack of pressure. Possibly also lack of reward and kudos associated with becoming Chartered?
  • process - a laborious process. Now possibly more streamlined through the changes implemented to the routes to professional qualifications, and through submission via the CILIP Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)?

Over the last few years CILIP has undertaken extensive work re-designing the routes to registration (formerly known as qualifications), the supporting professional skills and knowledge base, as well as the VLE. If you haven't looked at CILIP's Professional Registration pages recently then may I urge you to do so? The barriers may not be as numerous or as high as you believe! And there is lots of support to help you achieve your goal.

Other bodies providing professional recognition
  • Information and Records Management Society IRMS - offers an Accredited Members scheme. This may be more appropriate for colleagues dealing with records management, information rights and governance. I believe that the Scheme requires IRMS membership and submission of a reflective account of 750 words with a supporting reference from an IRMS member.
  • Archives and Records Association ARA - Registration Scheme supports trained archivists who are members of ARA to demonstrate continuing professional development.

Chartership and me

I chartered in 1993 and Revalidated in 2010. Within the last week I've just submitted my second revalidation under the new regulations. Along the way, admittedly in the dim and distant past, Chartership has enabled me to apply for and gain roles in further and higher education library posts. More recently, it seems to have been less of a requirement, not just in GKIM but also in the commercial sector. Despite this I firmly believe that being Chartered has served me well. It's something that I'm proud of, and that motivates me to maintain and update my skills and knowledge, to follow the code of professional ethics, and to share that pride with my colleagues. I've supported a few colleagues to successfully Charter, but I've also supported and encouraged colleagues to undertake professional library and information management qualifications who haven't then gone on to consider professional membership or Chartership.

I've always considered Chartership as a kite mark for professionalism, one that can be recognised by employers (current and potential), but that also provides the individual with a strong sense of pride, confidence, ethics and values. Some people will have inherent confidence in their skills and abilities and won't need the support and recognition that Chartership provides. But for the rest of us Charterhip is that comforting, external benchmark that we can shine to and promote.

For me Chartering has definitely been a continuing source of strength, pride and professional energy. Revalidation serves as a useful reminder to evaluate, plan, actively seek out and undertake opportunities for continuing professional development and to reflect on all of these stages. The forthcoming introduction of obligatory annual Revalidation will, I believe, be helpful for all committed professionals. Far from being a detractor for Chartership, this should be seen as a bonus, and as a very natural extension to the Chartering process.

1 . KIM Profession Conference 2015. "Building capability: a profession that works for you". BIS Conference Centre, Victoria Street, London.

2 . Chartership is now one of the stages of CILIP Professional Registration. See this link for further information.

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