Thursday, 26 July 2012

Mentoring - Thing 11

Three weeks into my new post, and I have my first meeting with my mentor. All new employees above a certain grade are assigned a mentor by the head of the Training and Professional Development department, who also came along to the first meeting, to introduce himself and outline the aims of the mentoring scheme.

As was pointed out, the recruitment of a new member of staff takes considerable investment in both time and money, so the aim of the mentoring scheme is to help new staff members settle into their new environment and new role quickly - so they become effective faster, and also to help guide them through protocols etc that may be new to them.

Mentors are assigned from outside your own department, and they are usually at the same level or above. So to that extent, the new member of staff takes "pot-luck" with who they are assigned to. Having said that, I think I drew the trump card with my mentor. Our initial meeting lasted 2 hours - I found her easy to talk to; she listened but also willingly shared her own experiences, and although our departments are very different, we found we had certain similarities in both our working and our private lives too - and I think any common ground helps.

Whilst my mentor is from outside the library world, I am very happy that I have found someone I can rely on to guide my through my first 6 months (may be longer if we both agree) and I know that I have many library colleagues I can turn to for advice on professional matters too. For now though, I am happy to spend 6 months learning the processes and procedures of this new organisation, and discussing my new role with my assigned mentor. She has been at this organisation for 14 years and still occasionally meets her own mentor from all those years ago "for a good gossip" which I think is easier to do with someone completely removed from your immediate working world - and sometimes you just have to let off steam - don't you!?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Thing 10 - Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation.

I have only recently successfully Chartered. I did my degree in Librarianship more than 20 years ago at Aberystwyth (then one of only 4 universities in the UK at which you could study the subject). I did a joint degree with History (and a little Education thrown in too!) and I did enjoy the course. I am interested to see that now the majority of folk seem do do a Masters after completing a degree in another subject first.

My degree did stand me in good sted - I worked as a Librarian for a number of years before moving into the world of LIS systems with a computer company. That saw me designing, writing and delivering training courses to customers on how to use the LIS the company developed.

I then took a career break (quite a long one) and returned to work running the library in an FE College. This was quite challenging on a number of fronts - student behaviour; teaching staff unwilling to use books  and journals; budget cuts; staffing levels slashed leading to reduced opening hours. During my time there I decided to Charter (it was not seen as a "necessary" by the College, but my line manager of the time was encouraging).

I was surprised to find that my original Librarianship degree was not approved by CILIP. It had been approved shortly after I Graduated (bad timing!) This meant I had to follow the longer two year route - not an issue for me as it turned out.

I did not find the Chartership process easy to understand. I wanted to get a picture in my mind of what the end product would look like - but originally only saw Portfolio examples that had followed the previous specifications, which I just found confusing. However, once I had a picture in my mind, it was quite straight forward - once you got the hand of reflecting on what you were doing / visits made / training attended etc.

Having recently changed jobs, my immediate challenge is to get to grips with the daily routines and processes currently in place. But I have been asked to make changes to increase the promotion of the resources offered and encourage people to use more the skills of the staff. This involves making presentations to those studying at my new employers and these students are more used to making high powered presentation themselves, not receiving them!

The one area I lack formal training in (as I have always "learnt on the job") is in running training courses. I have learnt over the years what tends to work well and be well received, and what tends to switch off an audience, but I would feel far more comfortable planing and making these sort of training sessions with some credible training under my belt. Luckily, my employers are great believers in investing in training for their staff, and this is something they are supporting me with.

I wonder to what extent, if any, any library training at any level includes an element of training in teaching techniques. This is such a key part of our job these days, whether it is done informally or formally in a classroom or workshop setting, that I think it should be considered a key part of any course.

I'd be interested to know what you think?
CPD in your later career.

I must thank Shelia Webber for her interesting post, and those that commented on it.

I too am an "Old Thing" and am doing 23 Things for exactly that reason. I believe CPD is important for all no matter the age /stage of career or length of time as an LIS professional. I felt that some of the newer technology was leaving me behind. I am somewhat encouraged however to realise that lots of "Young Things" must think that too to get involved in such numbers!

So is CPD in your later career necessary? Absolutely!

I whole-heartedly agree with Shelia's comment that we often find ourselves needing CPD in areas we did not expect. I know that more than 20 years ago when I started out, I did not expect to be where I am today - but then surely few of us in our first job set out to follow a rigid path we could clearly see before us?

I am continually saying (no doubt to the annoyance of those around me) that I love it when I learn something new, and I too was very taken with the notion of (un)conscious /(in)competence which I have been mulling over (something I think us "Old Things" like to do) all day!

I am two weeks into a new job, with all the challenges that that brings - new faces, new buildings, new procedures -  let alone getting to grips with tackling the ever growing list of tasks! Changing jobs always brings new challenges, (not the least of which, for me, will be continuing with 23 Things whilst "finding my feet" ) but continuing professional development is a key part of this, sometimes in areas that are completely new to me.

Good luck to all us Oldies - I am sure all we are learning will reap benefits - much like Sheila's beautiful harvest photos!