The Journey begins…
I have been a Library Assistant in a North London secondary school for three years after graduating as a mature student in BA Hons. Education Studies in 2011. I absolutely loved my role working in the library supporting the students’ development leading them to further knowledge and information and reading for enjoyment. I felt that I was contributing to their personal development and empowerment. I began to feel at home, I had a real sense of belonging in my role. The more I began to immerse myself within it and analysed the impact I could have, the more I became frustrated. This was because of the apparent lack professional development aimed towards library assistants (in my case in schools) and the limitations of my role. Additionally, I felt incredibly isolated having very few opportunities to speak with others in the profession.
Through this experience and frustration I contacted CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and was informed of the members’ benefits. Although I had heard of the professional body, I thought it was only for ‘professionals’, which I felt, by my job title, role and status, excluded me. Since my membership in January 2015 I have gained access to the comprehensive selection of information and advice on the CILIP website and VLE, which I have fully immersed myself into. CILIP has given me a lifeline that has helped me grow in knowledge and confidence. During this time I was also listening to many inspirational and motivational talks and discussions, such as OWN TV’s Super Soul Sunday and London Real TV. I began to gain a sense of clarity of where I needed to be and as entrepreneur Tai Lopez puts it ‘be the person you would want to invest in’.
Membership has encouraged me to participate in dialogue with many others. I have attended a CILIP School Libraries Group event where I was able to meet other school librarians, library assistants and children’s authors and literacy advocates and professionals; registered for Certification and secured a fantastic mentor; and developed a small, but very supportive network on Twitter which has lead to further opportunities such as attending YALC 2015, the promotion I just happened to stumble across Twittersphere; visiting another Librarian at his school library (arranged through Twitter); more recently #uklibchat that provide great opportunities for bite-sized, gold nuggets of info in their live chats; and email groups such as SLN (School Library Network on Yahoo) which I have been able to contribute to. I have also had access to the SLA (School Library Association) which provides great advice, resources and information and more.
The future, staying relevant and reinvention?
I have now secured a promotion in a new secondary school as Librarian starting in September 2015 which I am incredibly enthusiastic and excited about and very grateful for. I believe the evaluative aspect of working towards my CILIP Certification helped me to achieve this role. I have been able to critically reflect on my practice, this has enabled me to value the work I do and constructively adapt future practice at a time when I was ready to quit because I felt there were few opportunities to grow further.
The last recent months have been somewhat of a whirlwind, but it has demonstrated to me that the ability to gain and share information and knowledge is so incredibly powerful. My experience has also helped me realise that I must take responsibility of my own development needs and seek out the information to invest in myself rather than expecting it to be sought for me, perhaps by employers. I have also understood how necessary it is to continue seeking out your own development needs as organisations and society, through increasing pace of technology and effects of the economy, are rapidly changing around us. As Madonna has demonstrated in her long career, I believe that we have to master the art of reinventing ourselves to stay relevant (am I stating the obvious?) as quickly as our surroundings are changing. I can no longer feel regret nor bitterness towards this, but must embrace the inevitable. With that comes with sharing, inspiring, being inspired and innovating which I intend to achieve with this blog!
I want to thank those of you that have been part of my journey so far and even reading to the end of this extended piece, amazing and a big thank you too!