#87 Professional Contacts

Professional Contacts

It’s easy in the school environment to get insular, and forget that you’re part of a much larger picture, and profession. Your local network may be able to help you with resources and advice, but it’s also a good idea to keep looking out at the big world and see what’s going on.

This can be done via CPD events, setting up RSS feeds on sites you find interesting, reading widely, mailing lists and newsgroups, writing for journals, or social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace.

You could also try professional social networking spaces like LinkedIn.

Keep in touch.


#80 Innovation


Innovation is a state of mind. Many librarians are innovative, and many are not. So what does ‘innovative’ mean?

For me, an innovative professional is one who is constantly looking at the services they provide, with a view to improving them. This might be with the use of new technologies, new ways of looking at services, the introduction of entirely new services, or occasionally re-introducing older methods of service delivery.

What would I class as innovation in the library sphere? Anything that encourages pupil participation: blogs for book reviews, blogs for library service updates that encourage comment, surveys, conversation, communication of any sort. Anything that broadens the librarian’s mind: creation of curricular link collections, communication with teaching staff, cpd research, networking activity, thinking time. There are technologies that could be used creatively, almost too many to list: blogs, wikis, SMS (text your reminders), websites, library 2.0 technology, web 2.0 tools, photos, video, audio, podcasting.
Sometimes, simple little tricks can encourage pupils to read (or anything else you want them to do). I used to take the opening lines from a book and enlarge them greatly to about A2 size. I would stick this on the wall without label or comment. It was amazing how many pupils would ask what it was and demand to see the book.

Innovation is all about looking for the angle that will improve the service, never about the use of gimmicks or technology for its own sake.

And it can make a difference!

#78 Pedagogy


Do you need to know what’s going on in the classroom? Do you need to know about current developments in the curriculum? Do you need to know about learning styles? Do you need to be aware of pupils with special educational needs and how to service their needs? Do you need to know how to present information clearly and professionally?

No, not really. But I would argue that if you are unaware in any of these areas, you will be a poorer librarian for it.


Learning Styles

Multiple Intelligences

Special Educational Needs

When Librarians Become Teachers (2000, University based, but relevant)

#77 Qualifications


Many of the discussions on librarian mailing lists centre round salaries, qualifications and the connection between the two. There is no doubt that you will tend to get on better if you are fully qualified and chartered. This does not, of course, mean that you will necessarily be doing a better job.

It all really depends on what you want to get out of the job. If you are happy with the salary, and are not desperately career minded, school librarianship can be immensely rewarding and good fun at the same time. If you regard the job as a stepping stone to another area of librarianship, you would be advised to qualify and charter as soon as possible. If you’re one of those people who want to be on 50k by the time you’re 40, you won’t be reading this and you won’t have considered being a school librarian.

I’ve met individuals who have never considered gaining full qualifications, but who are excellent and successful librarians due to their people skills and intuitive and innate professionalism. I’ve also met ‘professional’ librarians who are hopelessly, hopelessly lost and who will probably never even recognise that fact.

If you feel it’s worth working for the paper that says you’re a professional, it can be useful professionally and satisfying personally. On the other hand, you can work successfully and professionally without certificates.

CILIP Framework

#76 Sell Yourself

Sell Yourself

Like the issue of publication, this is an issue that tends to split librarians. Should we yell and shout about the good things we do?

Well, yes is the simple answer. This doesn’t have to come across as a bragging exercise. There are many ways to sell yourself without making a big issue of it.

Some activities self-register such as anything you publish on the web including blogs, websites, links databases, book reviews etc. You can also highlight your successes and the robustness of your day to day activities via annual reports which can include stats, user comments and outcomes of projects. User surveys can also provide you with raw materials to highlight the success of the services you provide. Keep a CPD record to show how you, as a professional, are constantly developing.

If you’re doing it well, you should let them know that!



CILIP are often accused of non-representation in the school library community. They take £17 off my pay every month, and I still can’t figure out why, other than the fact that I can continue to call myself ‘chartered’. My wife pays £30 a year for the same privilege as a teacher. Something doesn’t add up. I’m sure CILIP would disagree with my assessment, so their end of the stick can be found here.

However, they do have a couple of useful spots on their website, and they offer decent training events if you can afford to travel to London.

LISJobnet is certainly useful if you’re considering a move. Their specialist interest groups vary between the bland (2 shoddy leaflets a year) to the sublime (real support). I won’t name names to avoid litigation, or snippy emails.

Chartership, of course, is the main reason people join. More information here.

That’s as positive as I can get about CILIP. They used to do a useful salary guide for school librarians which seems to have disappeared. If anyone can point me to it, I’d be grateful.

Found it!

CILIP School Librarian Salary Guide

#61 Google Alerts For CPD

Google Alerts

If you have a Google account (or something similar, they usually offer the same facilities), you can setup an alert on any topic that takes your fancy.

In Google, it works this way. Once you’ve logged in, click on ‘Settings’. Click on the ‘Accounts’ tab.

From there, choose ‘Google Account Settings’ and choose ‘Alerts’ from the list.

After that it’s a simple case of inserting your search term, choosing where you want Google to look, and how often you want this done. Supply an email address to receive the notifications and you’re done. Reverse this process to delete an alert, by going to your alerts page and choosing ‘Delete’.

Another simple but powerful tool. More information here.