Monday 1 August 2011

Thing 10 - Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

This week we will be discussing routes into librarianship. This post will mainly focus on the training and qualifications available to librarians in the UK.

Graduate traineeships
Although there are now undergraduate qualifications in librarianship, most librarians tend to have done their first degree in another subject, and then go on to a Masters in Library and Information Studies.
Most UK universities who offer LIS courses want you to have a year’s work experience before you start the course. Some people get this experience by working as library assistants but there are now an increasing number of graduate traineeships in the UK.

Graduate traineeships are usually 12 month long posts which start in August or September and are aimed at recent graduates who are thinking about going into librarianship. There are many different types of institution that offer these positions, amongst them are schools, universities, businesses and law firms.  CILIP have a good directory of traineeships in the UK.

Every traineeship position is different but a lot of institutions offer training and a programme of visits to other libraries. Traineeships not only provide recent graduates with relevant library experience but can also help them decide whether the career is really right for them.

If you would like to know more details about an individual traineeship programme in the UK then I would recommend looking at Catalog. This website documents the traineeship programme in Cambridge and is maintained by the trainees themselves. There are many more types of traineeships out there though so have a look at the CILIP website and see which one looks good for you!

The 2010-2011 Cambridge Graduate Trainee Librarians on a visit to Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Masters degrees
The next step for most people is to complete a CILIP accredited course. It is becoming more and more necessary for holders of professional library positions in the UK to have or to be working towards a qualification in librarianship. A list of CILIP accredited courses can be found on their website It is useful to note at this stage that graduate level qualifications from the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU member states are accepted by CILIP in the UK.
Most courses are quite similar in structure and contain core course on cataloguing, classification, IT systems and management. Courses are offered both full time and part time by most institutions. The distance learning courses at Aberystwyth, the Robert Gordon University and Northumbria University are becoming increasingly popular as there is the opportunity to continue working whilst you study.

Most librarians go on to Chartership after completing a qualification accredited by CILIP. Some professional posts require their applicants to be chartered but most people look at Chartership as a way to continue their professional development. You have to be a member of CILIP to undertake the programme. Chartership is a portfolio based qualification where you collect evidence of you professional development. Another important part of the programme is finding a mentor, (a concept which will be discussed more fully in the next Thing!) See the CILIP website for more information.

Certification is another CILIP qualification. It is open to anyone at any level who has had a minimum of 2 years work experience in the sector. You do not need to have completed an accredited course by CILIP and so in this way it is a different route to Chartership for people who might have had a different library career. The qualification is portfolio based and like Chartership is based round critically evaluating yourself and the job that you do. Again the CILIP website has a lot more information about how to join the Certification programme.

What next?
For this week’s 'Thing' I would like you to blog about your experiences as a librarian so far. Tell us about why you joined the career, where you are now and how you got there and what you are planning to do next. I apologise that this blog post has been rather UK focused and therefore I would love it if our international colleagues out there would blog about their experiences in their countries so we can learn more about routes in librarianship on a global level.


  1. Thought you might like to browse what happens in the Caribbean. Much has changed since I graduated in 1995. One new thing I see is the BEd in School Librarianship.

  2. Can people in the US or with US accredited Masters degrees become Chartered members?

  3. Good question. I don't know, but I've asked the CILIP qualifications advisor (@CILIPcpd on Twitter) to help!

  4. Hi. I assume -- and am hoping so. I have a US accredited Masters and am planning on pursuing chartership this autumn. So far, no one has said that I cannot! Am happy to discuss further.

  5. Quick answer: Yes. We have a reciprocal agreement with the ALA, so all their accredited courses are automatically accepted in the UK and used to work towards Chartership and apply for professional posts.

    The article accurately lists other countries whose qualifications are accepted in the UK, in practice many more are accepted, we just ask potential candidates to send us a few details about their studies and experience.

    Thanks for this nice clear blog.

  6. Thanks for the replies! I wasn't sure if I'd have to go through a process of transferring accreditation or anything like that.

    Now I just need to find a job ;-)

  7. Hi. Do I qualify as an Information Professional in the CILIP sense. I'd like to gain accrediation for what I do and the Certification looks like a good way to do this, but I'm worried that I don't fit the bill. My blog profile says what I do (rather than repeating it here). Can anyone advise?

  8. Hi Laura,
    I think CILIP's definition of information professional is pretty broad, so I don't see why not. The best thing to do though is probably to contact Michael Martin to check - contact details at or @cilipcpd

  9. Hi Niamh,
    Thank you for your reply. I should have checked for replies before adding my Thing 10 post to my blog! I'll get back on the case... thanks!

  10. Anonymous said...Hi,
    Do you know if anyone has used Evernote or some other web 2.0 application to build a virtual portfolio for CILIP Chartership? It occured to me that it might be useful for the purpose, but perhaps better in the paid version where MSOffice docs can be included. Is there a better tool out there? It sounds so much more 21st Century than a ring binder!

  11. Hi,

    cpd23 is aimed at both librarians and information professionals, therefore, this Thing should be aimed at and refer to both librarians and information professionals, not just librarians. I am not a librarian, but I have an undergraduate degree in Library and Information Studies and a MSc in Information Management. I have been an associate member of CILIP for 6 years, and am now chartering as an Information Professional (not a librarian). I will ignore the What Next instruction to blog about my experiences as a Librarian and will instead blog about my experiences as an Information Professional!

  12. Hi Information Icebreaker,

    I'm sorry that you felt that this post excluded you as an information professional - definitely not intentional! We have tried to make it clear throughout that our guest bloggers will be writing from their experiences, so examples given are often UK-centric and - as you point out - coming from the perspective of a librarian experiences, but that we are very interested in hearing the routes taken by others working in the information professions (or any others that feel they can gain from this programme). Sorry that this didn't come across in this post. I look forward to hearing about your route into the profession.

    Incidentally, my own route has been very different to the above, despite the fact that I am working as a librarian!

  13. Hi Janet,
    I haven't heard of anyone doing this, but I'm sure if you ask Michael (contact details above) he can point you in the right direction. I've heard of various eportfolio packages that might do the job, but can't recommend any in particular because I've never used them. I seem to recall hearing that CILIP looked into eportfolios too at some point, not certain about that though.
    Good luck with the chartership!

  14. As an American I found this post to be fascinating. The structure used in the UK seems to be eminently practical yet flexible. I'm applying my library background in a non-library setting these days but think that the concept of chartership would be excellent "tools" to employee were I to re-enter the traditional library field again. I do what I can to keep current and participate as time permits in my state's certification program activities.


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