Monday, 2 July 2012

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

This post was first published by Charlotte Smith as part of the 2011 programme and has been slightly adapted for 2012. The main change is to the task at the end, which asks for a consideration of qualifications in librarianship. Library routes/roots will be considered in more detail in Thing 20.

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. We are interested in hearing how this differs for other parts of the information sector and in other parts of the world!

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 consider the various qualifications that are appropriate for your role (not necessarily specific to librarianship).  You may wish to discuss a qualification you have already undertaken, one you might look at next, or why you feel specific qualifications are useful (or not) as preparation or as continuing professional development.  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. Just wanted to chip in my two cents about graduate traineeships.

    First, traineeships aren't just for recent graduates - I started my trainee year 7 years after graduating! I know of a few others that also aren't 'recent' grads. It's definitely possible to change (or in my case, get) a career later in life, starting with a traineeship.

    Second, I think the number of traineeships are decreasing rather than increasing. That certainly seems to be the case in Yorkshire at least - Leeds Met used to have two trainees, now they have one, same with Bradford Uni. Last year a local NHS trust had a trainee, now they don't. It's a real shame as I learned a lot in my trainee year, and I think it's set me up well for my career in whichever sector I choose after completing my MA.

  2. I wondered if anyone had any advice or info about AHRC or alternative forms of funding for Master’s Degrees? I have done some research already, but I was particularly wondering who is more likely to successfully gain funding, are you far more likely to get it if you complete a traineeship programme?

    1. It's a while since I have dealt with Masters funding but certainly in 2006, AHRC were only interested if you had a First in your undergrad and the competition was extremely strong.

      I did my MSc. via a Career Development Loan from the Co-op but City University (where I did my Masters) did have a few sources of funding (mostly partial, often aimed at specific sectors, like the Alex Mcvitty award, which is for law librarians) that could be applied for, so it is worth looking to see if any of them have anything like that. I wouldn't, however, rely on being successful there, so it is best to have a solid backup.

  3. Thanks Meg! You've been very helpful! I am very lucky as I do have a First but I'm under no illusions that this alone will be enough to get funding! Shall definitely explore other avenues- a backup plan is indeed a sensible idea!

  4. Jess, you can also try the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding -

    If you have access to a Careers Service they should have it.

    I'd also add that I got AHRC funding for my second year of study (I'm studying part-time). I definitely didn't think I'd get it, but figured I'd apply anyway, so I think it's always worth a shot!

    1. Thanks for the advice Michelle! I'm very grateful! I suppose with funding it is a case of 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'!

  5. My perception too is that there aren't as many graduate traineeships around as there once were. I was looking for one over 10 years ago now and found plenty around then, in as massive list published by CILIP. I had a wonderful year as a graduate trainee librarian at Exeter University Library. It had five trainees a year - but now doesn't have any.

  6. Great things about professional development!!! Very informative post, thanks for sharing.


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