How does CILIP support newly Qualified professionals who work in institutions that have no professional development budget?

What do you do? You are a recently qualified librarian who is about to embark on the road to chartership and who is also on the look out for a senior professional post.  The academic library you work in, as an assistant librarian, has had no budget for new resources for almost 2 years and journal subscriptions have been cut back significantly.   The staff training budget virtually no longer exists. This is where I find myself. I love my job and have been extremely lucky to have had my MSc funded…but what next?

I have been thinking a lot about how much more important it will be to set myself apart from the competition due to the current economic climate.  We all know how libraries and arts facilities are always the first to get hit by budget cuts in recessions and this time round is no exception as all the recent media coverage of public spending cuts tells us http://www.thebookseller.com/news/113806-libraries-most-vulnerable-to-public-service-cuts.html.rss . As I know only too well, it is not just public libraries that will be hit but academic libraries also.

Our survey suggests that academic libraries will be the hardest hit by these budgetary pressures, with 34.3% of them expecting to receive a smaller budget in two years’ time than they do currently. For a small minority, 6.9%, the pain will be very severe, since their budgets will be more than 10% smaller than they are this year” (LAW, 2009).

Try 100% smaller – For us this reality  is happening now!

Building a Chartership portfolio requires you to identify training needs and to seek to address them.  This will be tricky in my situation. I can seek free in-house training opportunities but these, by their very nature, are limited. I could seek free events to attend because I can still get travel expenses paid (providing I don’t travel first class!) but these opportunities are also limited. Also, because vacant posts in my library are not being filled, it is all-hands-on-deck, so getting the time off to attend events is very difficult.

Membership of CILIP is £184 and I am lucky that my place of work helps with the cost of this because I can not afford this on my own…but how long will this last? which brings me on to my next point. I have seen several CILIP events recently that I would love to attend, both for my own development, and because I think they would benefit my library. For example CILIPs Career Development Group is running a conference entitled Work Smarter the theme of which is how librarians can achieve more with fewer resources.  It is great that CILIP is addressing these issues but it is a shame that those institutions whom this would help most are the very ones who can’t afford to send their staff to these events –  even with membership discounts there is absolutely NO WAY, at a cost of £123, that I will get funding for this and I can not afford to pay for this myself. (and this is actually a pretty good deal as the average CILIP conference or training event is normally around the £300 – £450 mark)

How many dedicated and motivated professionals are in the same boat? We are members of a professional body that  provides great development opportunities…providing you work in an institution that can afford to send you to take part in these opportunities.

My goal is to look for development opportunities that will help me to, at the very least, keep up with my contemporaries and to enable me to be competitive in the job market but I suspect it is not going to be easy. However, it is important I am creative and make use of any opportunity I can – if  let we let our own development slip then in turn we let down our service users….Is any one else in the same boat? what are you doing to overcome this?

Is CILIP doing enough to support professionals in my position? Should it? I have no idea how this would be managed, but, there are often greatly reduced discounts for the unwaged to CILIP events, how about a discount for “unwaged” libraries?

I would be really interested to hear comments or ideas on this subject as there must be a lot of people in a similar position.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Hello Johanna,

    First of all I sympathise with the situation you describe and I understand how hard it must seem when your employer is unable or unwilling to help with your training needs. I myself was employed in the public library sector prior to employment here at CILIP where I found the opportunities for training rather few and far between (in hindsight). However they did contribute £1000 to my MA tuition fees so credit to them for that.

    Recently though I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend many more training courses and while some of these have required payment many more have been free. The two events below were both free to attend and only required me to be a member of a certain special interest group and a particular branch respectively. You are of course free to change you special interest group whenever you like too:

    Intute – Finding a Better Website Event (Oct 2009)
    CILIP in London Legible London Event (Jan 2010)

    Furthermore I have attended a large number of other events (of course it’s ALOT easier being in London) that have only cost in the region of £10-£15, I can provide details about these if you want too (email me).

    In addition I have recently made efforts to make visits to other libraries where for example next week I have arranged to visit Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service. This is of course free and would only perhaps require you to clear the time off with you employer, or at worst take a days leave – ok that is a pretty horrible idea 😉

    But the point I am making is that (as you say yourself) you need to be creative and make use of any opportunity you can.

    Next thing to do is join the #chartership twitter group (hang on – i notice you just have!) then we can share events, ideas, updates etc about what we’re doing – perhaps this will help?

    Finally in my meeting with my mentor today we discussed how training doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a formal training course – just emailing someone with a request for information is a form of learning and if you can provide evidence for this (the email) and demonstrate how you have put the training into action then you’re probably well on your way.

    Hope this helps somewhat 🙂

    Reply

  2. All of this is really great advice, however it does not address the problem that most of the CILIP courses and training are waaaaay to expensive for many individuals and institutions to afford. 😦
    I wonder what the average take up rate is and whether it is the same lucky people going to many of them?

    Reply

  3. Interesting post… Am actually working on a paper for the CILIP New Professional’s Conference on this very issue! Agree that CILIP courses are extremely expensive, which is why I tend to bin their course catalogue as soon as it arrives – they do have some really interesting looking courses, but there’s no way I’d be able to go on any of them so there’s not much point in my looking at them!

    Anyway, would agree with what Richard says above – I’m going to be making some similar points in my npc2010 paper. It’s important to be a bit creative in finding learning opportunities, especially when training budgets are shrinking or non-existent!

    Reply

  4. I am so sorry I didn’t respond sooner woodsie girl…I was not notified that you had commented, you had been hiding in my spam box. good luck with the paper. I would be very interested to find out how it goes and what response you get. I am pleased to hear this is being raised.

    Reply

  5. Sorry appreciate this was a while ago – looking at other things and came upon it.

    Are CILIP courses really expensive or do we just have insufficient budget for training?

    I don’t often go on CILIP courses as I don’t often find things I fancy but when I have done in the past they have seemed within the bounds of reason to me. CILIP courses seem to be about £200 a day. Hardly outrageous. The ones I went on were worth it as far as I recall.

    ASLIB seem to have changed their model so there are no prices visible but I recall these being relatively expensive. Specialist IT training courses have been more expensive in my experience (a quick search for Sharepoint courses shows these tend to be £1K and up ). I spoke at the Perfect Information Conference the other day and I’ll let you look up yourself how much that costs !

    Have you commented about this to the #cilipfuture work?

    Reply

    • Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your post.
      There is no doubt that we do not have a suffucient budget for training, indeed, we have not had a budget at all, not even for books, for at least the last 18 months and it is not likely to improve anytime soon. I often see CILIP training I would love to go to but do not even ask as the answer is likely to be no – the same is so for the other 14 librarians/managers in my department.
      As there are likely to be more and more libraries facing the difficulties we are having in the current climate the question I suppose I was really asking was how CILIP might address this.

      Reply

      • Hi Johanna,

        I am disappointed that an academic library could be in the financial position you describe.

        One thing I would add is to agree with Richard that there is a lot more in terms of CILIP training than the stuff in the main brochure. The regions and sigs are regularly running stuff and these are generally lower (in some cases zero) cost options. There was an interesting course advertises by MMiT the other day and this failed to mention any link with CILIP. I don’t think this helps with the visibility of the opportunities that the body of members generate as part of CILIP.

        I think I said elsewhere – something CILIP might want to do is give some indications of the kind of training budget that might be expected for someone in a professional post?

      • It is pretty dire. We can’t even buy one copy of CILIP’s “Building Your Portfolio” for the three members of staff who are thinking of chartering as we can’t be seen to be buying books for staff training but not for students.
        Another problem we face is that we are very short staffed (again, unlikely to change) so it is tricky to get the time off to attend events even if they are free, especially as I am not in London.
        All that said, communicating via twitter with other professionals and reading their tweets from events has been a lifeline. It is a great networking tool and it has also enabled me to find out about free/cheap events etc. I would not have done otherwise. The LIS JISCMail thing is also very good for finding out info.
        I agree, the visibility of opportuinties could be improved and a minimum training budget guidline is also an interesting idea that CILIP should consider.

      • I just wanted to add that everyones responses to my original post have been really useful in highlighting approaches to CPD that do not involve expensive training courses which is just what I had hoped for! 🙂

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