Saturday, 31 January 2009

And in the end... ...the love you take is equal to the love you make. Is it? I hope so. The portfolio is printed in triplicate and waiting to get bound and posted next week along with the mentor completion form, so now's a good time to reflect on the process (the blog's kind of fallen by the wayside while I've bene writting the portfolio but, if any future candidates should stumble across this I'd really recommend using a blog to build relective evidence).

So, the theme of this entry, what I'm reflecting on now, is what a GREAT PROFESSION I'm entering (yes you heard me folks - this is about positivity!). I've been very fortunate to have had two amazing mentors. Both have spent time to review documents, have meetings etc. Both have given me great advice (not only about the chartership process but also about the professional issues that I've encountered over the past year) and encouragement. Most importantly, both have pushed me, originally to set meaningful objectives in the PPDP and more recently to see them through.

I guess what I'm really wondering is why? I've been thinking just how lucky I am to be in a profession where (very busy) people are prepared to give a bit of their time and experience to mentor somebody just starting out. I guess this goes beyond the whole chartership thing. While I was taking my MSc. folks always took the time to ask how I was getting on, helped with research and help me getting hold of literature. In the workplace, people have always been ready to share their experience. In my current role for example, the former incumbent happens to work in the same place in a different role. She took time to show me the ropes and still takes time to go for coffee every now and then. Sound things out and generally keep me (as a solo librarian) sane.

I hear a lot of critisism. Both of the profession in general and CILIP in particular. Some of this is starting to grate a bit now. I think my attitude to CILIP has changed over the past year. I felt a bit squeezed out of the public sector having qualified just as a (particularly nasty) restructure hit. At the time I wondered why CILIP didn't do more and weren't more vocal. Now I realise that is probably beyond their remit. They are a professional body not a trade union. What was sad at the time was the tactics that management used to divide professional and para-professional staff. With this division, the effectiveness of collective action was severely hampered and the hatchet fell on the professional side of the workforce. Was that CILIP's fault? On reflection probably not. The failure was primarily with senior management but also (despite my leftist leanings) I have to criticise the union for not protecting it's members against the divisive tactics of senior mangement and unifying the workforce (the are called Unison after all).

The other criticism I hear of CILIP is the cost-benefit thing. How many times have you heard winges about the cost of membership and "what do you get for it?". Well, I'm here to say, there is loads out there if you make the effort to find it. Here in Hampshire there are tons of events and they are often free (or if not they are very cheap). At Ridgemount Street there's stuff going on weekly. If you're prepared to make the effort there are SO MANY ways that CILIP can help you to develop within your profession.

So, is it all sunshine and roses? No, of course not. This is a difficult time but it's important to remember that it's a difficult time for EVERYONE. I honestly feel that in a profession full of people who just LOVE TO HELP others, we are better prepared than many to make it through the hard times.

What's my hope for the future? Well, pass or fail, my hope is that I can give back to the profession (by that I mean library people) as much as it has given me. If we can all Come Together then I've a feeling that the future is very bright. There's a bit from Bob Dylan's autobiography which as always stuck with me. It's about his grandma saying something like.
"Everyone you know is struggling. Try to be nice". Most of the library staff I know live that every day.

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