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.
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.
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.
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.