#FutureSkills and The Body Of Professional Knowledge for Librarians

Following on from the “Defining Our Professional Future” report, CILIP have started working on a number of large projects. One of them is focused on the skills we use in the information and library profession, and part of this involves updating the Body of Professional Knowledge and Skills (BPKS). Put simply, it will identify all skills, competencies and knowledge relevant to the profession and present them in a way that can be measured.

CILIP have been asking members and non-members to feedback on the draft version of the document. So, I did. I thought it was worth making the effort to help ensure that the BPKS was as relevant as possible to the profession, and also ensure that it remained relevant in the future. I’m not an expert in every aspect of information/library based work, so I don’t feel I could respond in detail to every aspect of the questionnaire used for feeding back into the consultation, but I responded to what I could. Even those areas I was hazy about made me think about how they related to my role, roles I’ve had in the past, or even how they relate to colleagues roles. It was useful to go through the draft document, even just to remind myself of the range of skills and knowledge needed in the profession, aspects of which I’d forgotten about, or maybe wasn’t even aware of. Even though it’s still in draft format, it was also good to be able to identify areas that I may want to or need to improve my skills in the future.

Once it’s been updated I can see it being personally useful for:

  • Identifying my existing skills & knowledge – useful for clarifying to others what I do.
  • Identifying skills & knowledge gaps I would want to develop.
  • Show possible paths to career progression.
  • Use to show others what librarians do – employers, Government Ministers, those who hold the purse strings.

CILIP mention that they intend to link in their resources (eg resources on the CILIP website; specific CILIP special interest groups; Facet publications) with skills and knowledge listed in the body of professional knowledge . I think this is a really good idea, but as well as this, I wonder if there’s scope to develop this aspect further, such as:

  • Make an online version of the BPKS document editable, so that members can add other non-CILIP resources they think are relevant.
  • Job shadowing or events with individuals who possess skills/knowledge in an area you want to develop.
  • Small scale mentoring programmes, again focusing on specific skills sets, rather than the full chartership scheme.

A few skills/knowledge areas I thought needed to be specifically emphasised in the BPKS were:

  • Knowledge and understanding of existing legislation and central Government initiatives.
  • Advocacy skills.
  • Leadership – provide direction and lead by example.
I also wonder how we can use the BPKS to develop our roles so that we not only adapt to changes happening around us in society, but also play a part in guiding or influencing society?

As well as providing feedback on the BPKS, yesterday I also attended a talk by Bethan Ruddock about the Future Skills project hosted by CILIP London & South East Career Development Group. She ran through the various stages of the project, how it was developing and how it would impact upon other areas beyond the BPKS. The project will also include an examination of CILIP accreditation & seal of recognition, and the intention is for it to tie in closely with continuing professional development.

Bethan’s talk generated discussions around the need to emphasise specialist information skills over generic skills in the BPKS; how the terminology used to describe the skills/knowledge might not be relevant to some people in the profession and how this can be overcome; concerns over de-professionalisation of information/library services; who was involved in the Future Skills discussion?; the need to reach and involve people in the discussion who are not normally involved with CILIP, as it is just as much their profession too.

So, if you haven’t got involved yet, there are still a few days left to feedback on the Body of Professional Knowledge (it runs until midnight on Sunday 29th April), and if anyone on Twitter is interested in getting involved in the Future Skills discussion, there will be a CILIP #chartership #FutureSkills chat on 26 April from 6.30pm-8pm.

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