The Road Less Travelled – Looking Beyond Traditional Library Qualification

Last month (December 12th) I attended an interesting afternoon of talks organised by cpd25 called The Road Less Travelled – Looking Beyond Traditional Library Qualification at which five speakers talked about different ways to gain further qualifications and experience following postgraduate study.


Elizabeth Charles, Assistant Director of Library Service at Birkbeck, talked about becoming a Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT).  She has a background in academic and technical services roles, including the deployment of VLEs and training academics in their use.  After taking, and then helping run, an open course in Technology Enhanced Learning, Elizabeth took the CMALT as part of a group, enabling them to support one another through.

The course itself involves building a portfolio of work covering different aspects of learning technology (such as Operational Issues and Communication and working with others) and describing what you have done before reflecting upon it.  Off the back of this, Elizabeth has since been involved in running steering groups to recommend support for IT, citing the CMALT as giving her confidence to do this.

She also recommended the HEA Fellowship as something anyone in libraries could do, that it is not just for Subject Librarians, and also the 1 minute CPD website as a fantastic resource for learning about digital things and keeping up to date.


Ella Mitchell, Academic Services Manager at the University of East London, spoke about taking a distance course in Blended and Online Education (BOE) with Edinburgh Napier University.  The course is delivered online, via Moodle, and enables students to become lecturers and online administrators in groups while learning about online learning technologies.

Why take the course?  Ella felt it helped develop an interest in new trends, allowed her to work closely with learning technologies and their designers, gain new skills, meet students, develop networks and gain confidence.  Other benefits included gaining new insights, developing confidence, an insight into assessments, use of social media, learning about work elsewhere and experiencing VLEs from the student point of view.


David Morgan, Metadata, Discovery and Analytics Coordinator at Royal Holloway, spoke about project management in libraries and looking at possibilities for a formal qualification in this area.

David has a long history in library project management, from setting up community libraries to being the project coordinator for moving Holloway’s three libraries into one big new one (which was actually many projects rolled into one).

Project management is listed as a skill in CILIP’s Professional Knowledge and Skills Base and seen as a generic hard skill in SCONUL’s Mapping the Future of Academic Libraries Report.  David studied it in his MSc Dissertation and is seeking a qualification with the Association for Project Management next.  This is a UK based institution, which was why he chose it over the Project Management Institute, which is US-based and their qualification, he felt, would be too based on US work practices.  Similarly, PRINCE2 is a methodology and does not give the opportunity to reflect on skills and competencies.

If you are intrigued by this, you might be interested in the relevant JiscMail list.

Finally, Amy Rippon, Academic Engagement Librarian at Roehampton and Kevin Wilson, Academic Liaison and Collection Development Manager at LSE, each spoke about their experiences on ERASMUS+ placements.

As anyone who has already looked at their presentations, or attended Martina’s talk (or read her blogpost), professional services staff can attend ERASMUS-organised weeks attending a European University, often with colleagues from around Europe, and learn about local practices.

Both found it an enjoyable and exciting experience, learning about libraries in Slovenia (Maribor) and the Czech Republic (Brno) – including the fact that spine labels are placed on the back of the book in Slovenia and a joining fee is common at universities in Slovenia, who also share a national library management system.

Overall, they felt that these weeks challenged assumptions about HE libraries while giving a wider perspective.  They were also great for global networking – Amy mentioned having been in contact with many of the librarians she met since visiting Maribor.


For me, this was another enjoyable cpd25 experience in another fantastic venue – the British Medical Association.

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