Thing 10 & Thing 20 – How I got here, and appropriate qualifications #CPD23

I thought I would combine these 2 ‘Things’, as they are quite related.

Who I am

My current role is a non-traditional library professional role within a NHS (until April 2013…) Public Health department that also provides services for primary care, commissioning, community and social care staff within the Bolton ‘health Economy’. We also have members of the public and students use us, but I do not tend to deal with front-line queries (staffing issues aside). My official job title is ‘Public Health Evidence and Knowledge Specialist’ and the role is much more than a library manager. As well as having strategic responsibility for the library, I am the clinical librarian – basically the only library professional, so I am involved in everything! I am also a key member of the Public Health Intelligence Team (involved in the creation and dissemination of health, care and wellbeing intelligence). I have a role in the wider public health department (I have a deep knowledge of public health) as well as lot more responsibilities. I am quite confident there is no other ‘librarian’ in the UK with a similar role and responsibilities to mine!

I am constantly looking to develop. My career goal in the short-term is to ensure the library service operates to the best of its abilities, including throughout the local authority transition. Beyond on that, if I decide to stay within libraries, I may look towards a more traditional library management role within either a health or academic library. I have no ‘set in stone’ goals and thanks to my development I always have the opportunity to step away from libraries and into public health or even commissioning.

Qualifications

I am currently studying my MA in Library and Information Management at MMU. I am finishing up my dissertation, which is proving quite challenging, but for more personal reasons (effort, time) rather than the difficulty of the task. As will be shown later on in this post, I have approached librarianship in quite a different way, so by the time I started the course, I was already quite experienced in all aspects of library work and management. I was hoping the course will fill the gaps within my knowledge, and in some aspects it did. I found the majority of the course complemented the knowledge I already had. Though, again the traditional librarian route seems to be (arty yet practically vapid undergraduate degree), qualification then job, so it is only to be expected the course tailored to those with little or moderate experience and knowledge within the library sphere. In reality, the world of library is like most professions – the qualification is the start of the journey rather than the end. I think those new to the profession found the course useful, even though us with experience had a mixed experience. In September 2012, I was awarded my Chartership qualification by CILIP. This was quite a useful process to go through, and one I would recommend all library professionals to go through – if only for an extra advantage when applying for jobs and an increased knowledge of libraries away from your own personal library sphere.

Moving forward, my next qualifications will most probably non-library related. I am looking to develop my knowledge of public health intelligence as well as more generic leadership and management/business skills. Within larger organisations (which many library services are based) it is not enough to rely on ‘library’ management, true managerial skills are required – project management, personnel management, financial management etc.

Library Routes

As mentioned above, I feel my route into ‘library’ is quite different to the usual routes. Prior to getting my first para-professional library role, I had gotten my (irrelevant and impractical) undergraduate degree and worked in various pubs as an assistant manager. I had no interest in working in a library, rather wanted to get out of pubs! I took a very much bottom up approach to my library career, which I have great pride in. This, rather than any qualification, or any level of networking has enabled me to develop. I can do and literally have done everything within our service. Many core ‘library’ skills I am self-taught within, again – something I am very proud of. My original manager within the library was not a librarian by trade either, and the library at that time was more a health promotion resource centre. Over time this evolved into a more traditional library service (something I drove) and eventually after a departmental re-organisation I was offered the role of library manager. This came at the right time as I was actively looking to develop beyond my role – I had investigated an assistant librarian role within a nearby teaching hospital and a graduate trainee librarian role (my reflection skills let me down in the interview apparently). Since stepping up, I feel I have made large steps in developing – a combination of self-taught and a strong CPD network and these are reflected within the service. As the service stands, I am responsible for most of the operational and strategic decisions and have a freedom to develop, for which I am very lucky, though that luck is reciprocal as they are lucky to have me as well!

Library Day in the Life

I have partaken in Library Day in the Life since #LibDay5 can view my posts here:

 

I always find this such a useful activity, both writing about what I do – but also read about what other people do. It seems to have taken a hiatus, I do hope it returns. I have always recommended other library folk to participate in this.

Moving Forward

Moving forward from this post, I am going to:

  • Add my library roots to library routes
  • Find out what happened to #Libday
  • Finish my dissertation!
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