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CILIP Chartership for procrastinators

Having recently become a Chartered librarian (through the professional registration scheme run by CILIP, the library and information association in the UK), I thought I’d share some of the lessons I learned along the way.

When I was working on Chartership, I read lots of great advice from other librarians that had completed the process, or were working towards it at various rates. However, one thing I never saw was a guide for people like me: procrastinators. People who will never complete in a day what could be spun out to take weeks or even months.

So here it is: the definitive guide to making Chartership last as long as possible. I took a solid nine years to complete mine, but by following these tips, you could easily stretch it out to a full decade!

Illustration of road sign with two arrows. One pointing right says "Now", and the other, pointing left, says "Later"

Always take the left path. Am I right, procrastinators?

Tip 1: Don’t look, just leap!

To ensure the maximum time possible is spent on Chartership, it’s really important to just sign yourself up as soon as possible, without considering whether it’s actually the best time for you, personally or professionally, to do so.

For example, I registered for Chartership basically straight after submitting my Masters dissertation, when I was in the middle of changing to a new role at work, training my replacement, and really starting to consider what kind of librarian I wanted to be. A few months later, I changed jobs entirely and moved across the country, ensuring I had to restart the Chartership process all over again – in what became a repeated pattern over the next 5 years of changing jobs, changing sectors, and needing to re-frame my Chartership development each time.

Has I given myself a bit of a break between finishing my Masters and embarking on Chartership, I’d have missed out on years of false starts, re-starts, and wasted time. And that would never do!

Tip 2: Why commit when you can over-commit?

Another key factor in ensuring a process like Chartership takes much, much longer than you’d think would be possible, is over-committing to professional responsibilities and CPD. As a rule of thumb, agree to as many things as you can realistically squeeze into your daily life, and then agree to do a bunch more things on top of that.

Remember, you can justify each and every one of these commitments by saying “they’ll be great evidence for Chartership” (even if they’re entirely unrelated to your selected areas of the PKSB!), while AT THE SAME TIME, ensuring that you won’t have any time left to actually reflect on or gather evidence related to any of it.

This approach has the bonus side-effect that, if (or when) life throws something unexpected your way, rather than being able to keep on with normal professional life with a few adjustments, you’ll instead go into a massive panic and end up dropping everything just so you can cope. Which can easily spin out the whole process for two or three extra years, as by the time you’re able to pick it up again you’ll have forgotten and/or moved on from everything you’d been doing previously!

Tip 3: Keep your mentor in the dark

Anyone involved in Chartership will tell you how important your mentor is to the process. What they won’t tell you is that your mentor definitely doesn’t want to be bothered with any problems you might be having. No, they literally only want to hear from you when things are going fine and everything is on schedule. Why would they want to know otherwise?

So if and when you find yourself losing direction, unsure of what to do next, or just struggling to keep any CPD going, make sure to maintain radio silence with your mentor. They definitely wouldn’t have any advice for you anyway, and you’d only upset them if they knew you’d missed your last few self-imposed deadlines.

Tip 4: Reflection is a dish best served cold

Everyone will tell you that reflection is vital to the Chartership process, and that you need to get in the habit of reflecting on CPD soon after completing it. But if you are serious about dragging out your Chartership for as long as possible, then leave the reflection until later!

The best way is to wait until months and months have passed, ideally until you can’t put it off any longer and you’re actually assembling your final portfolio and starting to write your evaluative statement. That way, you’ll have forgotten what most of your CPD actually was, what you learned from it, and what (if anything) you actually managed to put into practice.

Bonus points if you never made a note of what you’d done or what area of the PKSB it related to at the time, so you have to go back through your diaries/calendars/email to work out what you can write about.

So there it is, my foolproof plan for dragging out your CILIP Chartership process way beyond the point where you can remember why it was a good idea in the first place! Fellow procrastinators, has anyone else managed to drag out your Chartership for as long or longer than mine? Feel free to share your time-wasting tips here too!

Postscript: For the avoidance of doubt, yes this “advice” is all tongue-in-cheek. I am really pleased and proud to have finally completed Chartership last year, but I am more than a little annoyed at myself for letting it drag on for so long. I think it’s totally possible to get done in a year or less, and I think I’d probably have got a bit less negative about the whole process if I hadn’t faffed about wasting time for so long! This post is my attempt to share some of the mistakes I made, in the hope that I can help others avoid the same fate.

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