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.