Achieving FCLIP and what it means

Last week I got the email telling me that I have achieved Fellowship from CILIP. Anyone that knows me even a tiny bit via this blog, the Librarians with Lives podcast, Twitter or in real-life will know that it has been a journey for me to get to this point.

It feels like another lifetime now but less than three years ago I was so unwell that I couldn’t write an email or read text longer than a page. My short-term memory was non-existent and I often felt frightened and overwhelmed. When I returned to work full-time in January 2017 after a lengthy phased return I didn’t imagine for a second that I would take on something like Fellowship. I registered for FCLIP in February 2017. On reflection it was too soon after my illness but I felt that I needed a long-term goal to focus on beyond being able to get up in the morning and function effectively.

I have written extensively elsewhere on the process I’ve been through, so I won’t repeat that here. When I opened the congratulatory email I did a little whoop and then felt oddly calm. I had expected to be running around with joy (that came later) or maybe even have a good cry. It turns out that I’ve shed enough tears over the last few months. I told my family and friends first, then put the word out on social media. I’ve had so many lovely messages. On Monday I took treats into work and wrote a brief email outlining why, with a brief explanation of 1. CILIP and 2. Fellowship. Again, the congratulatory messages have been overwhelming and it’s nice to be appreciated.

The feedback from the Professional Registration Assessment Board on my FCLIP portfolio was as follows:

“Congratulations on achieving Fellowship. Having created a successful service you have been looking outward and involving the wider sector in being customers of the service. Your learning and development is clear at both a strategic and managerial level and is reflected in your successes reflected in the comments from the organisational leads’ supporting statements. The work you have done with Librarians with Lives and the number of “lives” it has touched is considerable. A growing and global community is emerging which is testament to your efforts”.

Ultimately, achieving FCLIP doesn’t really change anything. It’s more letters after my name (cheers to the person I know IRL who said I needed to do a PhD next to complete the set. NO. I mean, really. No.) It’s something to add to my CV. It demonstrates my commitment to continuing professional development. It will make me a better Chartership mentor. I’m now part of a fairly small group of people who can describe themselves as a Fellow. In 2016 I didn’t want to do my job any more. I didn’t want to be a librarian. I didn’t think I was worth saving. Achieving FCLIP has given me a forcible reminder that I have made something of a difference to my organisation and the wider profession.

When I submitted my FCLIP portfolio it felt like the end of an era. I had reflected extensively on my achievements over the last ten years, particularly building a library and information service for social workers from scratch and making it successful and sustainable. Achieving Fellowship is the culmination of a decade of work and I’m now ready for a new challenge.

 

LwL Podcast Episode 51 – Phil Bradley

In Episode 51 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Phil Bradley, until recently a consultant and trainer about working for the British Council, CD-ROMs and libraries, the coming of the internet, the impact of Twitter, playing around on the internet for a living, mental health and loss, and what it’s like to be CILIP President during turbulent times…

Phil’s training website: https://philbradleytraining.weebly.com/ He’s offering his Apps for Librarians video course of 40 videos entirely free of charge. His training course of 40+ videos lasting over 6 hours is available for £20 for unlimited personal access. People can email him for more details: philipbradley@gmail.com (Phil is happy for me to publish his contact details here.)

We recorded this episode in early February over Skype audio. Normally I’m able to switch off after a podcast recording but this one really stayed with me as it was a lot to process. Phil talks very candidly about being CILIP President and the impact that the experience had on his mental health. I was shocked by some of the things he said and, listening back to the episode, I think that comes across.

I missed a lot of what happened in CILIP and in the profession generally when I went on an extended CPD break from 2012-2016 and I was largely disconnected for about a year for various reasons prior to that. On reflection it was probably a good thing.

Even if you’re not a massive fan of Librarians with Lives I’d urge you to listen to this episode. If nothing else, we should reflect on how we treat others (as a previous low-level library twitter moron I very much include myself in this) in the profession. The main point being that if you’re moved to send death threats to the CILIP President by email, maybe…don’t….?

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 23rd April and features Shaun Kennedy.

Happy listening!

189.5 hours of CPD – or trying to stay sane when your professional life explodes

I updated my CPD log on the CILIP VLE recently. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’ve accumulated a considerable number of CPD hours in the last twelve months. If anything, 189.5 hours might be an underestimate.

I think it’s worth giving this some context. The majority of my CPD has happened outside of work hours, aside from the conferences and events that I’m very kindly given time to attend by my manager. I’ve been asked a few times if I have a proper job, and if my employer minds. 1. I do, and I’ll be blogging about it separately at some stage. 2. My line manager’s view is that anything that gets my name (and, by extension, my employers’) ‘out there’ professionally in a positive way is to be embraced and celebrated. I mostly record Librarians with Lives episodes in the evening, when my children are in bed. I don’t do any CPD at weekends, or when I’m on leave.

The background noise accompanying this is my mental health. In the presentations I’ve done about mental health and professional resilience I mention that there were three different things that triggered my severe illness in 2016. I have talked in detail about the work-related aspect and gloss over the other two. Currently, my work life is great and acts as a protective factor because the other two bits (one health, and one not-my-actual-family) aren’t so great and, right now, one of them is severely affecting my general health and wellbeing.

The Librarians with Lives podcast also acted as a brilliant protective factor until, one day, it didn’t. I had a crazy 6 weeks in October and November where I presented at seven different events, including a wonderful two days at ILI where I ‘live’ podcasted the event. I’m grateful that I was so busy because otherwise I think things would have been very bad indeed. I’m not going to give airtime to events in the autumn, but I am going to talk about the impact that it had and continues to have.

I was about and about doing my thing, meeting people at professional events, involved in all the stuff I love – presentations and podcasting, meeting new people and making connections, and feeling nauseous and frightened the entire time. Second-guessing whether the person I was talking to was happy to be talking to me, or whether I was being sized up to determine what I was *really* like. Suddenly feeling mistrustful of people and politely distancing myself from those that I felt had enjoyed the drama at my expense a little too much. Batting away ‘I saw what happened. Are you ok?’ queries from concerned friends, strangers and bystanders so I didn’t worry them. Fretting that I (and by extension Librarians with Lives) was damaged goods, to be avoided. Turning my experiences into jokes in conference presentations. Laughing at the ludicrousness of it all while feeling angry and sad.

I knew that once I stopped podcasting and presenting and networking and being ‘Jo the Librarians with Lives person’, my brain would make me pay for distracting myself for so long. The intrusive, frightening thoughts I have when I’m in a really bad place returned with all kinds of disturbing new twists. I felt irrationally panicky most of the time. When I didn’t feel panicky I felt sad. At least I had stopped feeling nauseous by this point. I hadn’t experienced anxiety-induced nausea before and I don’t recommend it as an experience. I had a long break over Christmas and apart from being (physically) ill for part of the time, it was wonderful.

I gave myself space to make decisions without forcing it to do anything and realised that:

  1. I love my job. It’s not fashionable to stay with the same employer for so long but (highly edited highlights time – as I said earlier the full version will get airtime in the spring), in the last 10 years I have set up a library and information service for social workers across England from scratch building up a large user base in the process, I won an award for my work to embed evidence-informed practice across the organisation, my library has partnerships (which I set up) with three external bodies to whom we provide information services and there are more in the pipeline, and the LIS was mentioned in my employer’s recent Outstanding report from Ofsted. This isn’t stuff you can do if you change jobs every two years. It takes time and effort to build the necessary partnerships, connections, and reputation to achieve meaningful change. Why on earth would I walk away from a job that offers me the chance to get involved in projects across the organisation and influence the sector externally, that is highly valued and championed by its users, with brilliant colleagues, an organisation that has families and flexible working in its DNA, with a management team that ‘gets’ me and understands that by letting me be me they’ve got a sector-leading LIS out of it?
  2. The Librarians with Lives podcast is a positive force, that is valued by listeners and participants and is leading to small but meaningful changes to the profession. I have a slide I use in my presentation about podcasting depicting a world map with all the countries in which LwL is listened to coloured in. It blows my mind every time I update it. I started LwL as the tiniest of CPD projects to put into my Fellowship portfolio as a way of demonstrating wider professional involvement and the fact that so many people listen to it is just mind-blowing. I seriously considered stopping LwL in the autumn because I didn’t feel I could ever enjoy doing it in the same way again. I’m continually meeting and finding new people that I want to interview though, so it marches onwards. When I’m feeling down I try to remember that I’m better off being me, trying to be a force for good in the profession, raising people up rather than tearing them down.
  3. I would happily go and podcast at conferences every year for the rest of my working life, so do invite me *hint* *clang*
  4. I will achieve FCLIP this year. After my #fckfclip rant to my friend (not on social media) at the end of last year, I have resolved to get my CILIP Fellowship done in 2019. The carrot for me is that when I (finally) achieve Fellowship, I can go and get a nail technician qualification and somehow combine professional networking, podcasting, wellbeing and manicures together in one sparkly package.
  5. I’d like to do more to highlight mental health in the profession. Every time I’ve delivered my mental health and professional resilience presentation I have had a little queue of people who want to speak to me afterwards. Some want to thank me for being so honest and for raising awareness of difficult issues. Others want to share their own mental health experiences with me. I’m asked for advice on supporting partners, family members and colleagues struggling with mental health. I think there’s *something* valuable I can do here; I just need to work out what it is.

Over the last few months I’ve found it hard to appreciate all the positive things that have happened as a result of doing LwL, but here are a few to remind me:

  • The articles and news pieces in Information Professional, the MMiT blog, and in Business Information Review
  • The conference presentations in London, Brighton, Glasgow, Cambridge and Aberystwyth
  • The networking workshops with Mike, who I now count as a good friend
  • Being a guest on Calon FM in Wrexham with Paul
  • Appearing as an occasional recurring character on the Doctor WHEasel podcast
  • My theatre trips with Clare
  • Becoming one of the ‘faces’ of CILIP (I wrestled with this for a time; now I embrace it)
  • Running after people I would have been too scared to approach at conferences previously because they’re cool and amazing and asking them to be on my podcast (sorry Joshua). See also: ‘Stay there! You need to be on my podcast!’ (sorry Holger)
  • Podcasting at the ILI and CILIP conferences (possibly the most fun it is possible to have at a professional event)
  • Plotting to steal CILIP Presidential medals with Ellie and Rachel in Aberystwyth
  • Squealy, excited hugs with Sally and Margaret in Glasgow
  • The pre-conference dinner in Cambridge, where Claire engineered the seating plan to surround me with lovely people
  • Getting to know a whole load of people, most of whom I wouldn’t have otherwise met, as a result of doing LwL: Helen B, Clare, Mike E, Andrew, Juanita, Katherine, Michael, Laura, Amy, Helen M, Tracy, Nick, Alisa, Mike J, Jo C, Rhiannon, Elle, Hannah, Jen B, Jenny F, Caitlin, Kathryn, Tom P, Tom R, Jane, David, Louise, Emma, Anne, Natasha, Ian, Minnie/Emily, Kate G, Leah, Kate F, Gus, Kat, Brian, Alison, Helen L, Martin, Hal, Phil, Lynsey, Sally, Paul, Ellie, Holger, Angela, Naomi, all the people I’ve interviewed at conferences, and the forthcoming interviews with loads of awesome people.

I reference the concept of high-achieving anxiety in my presentations and while it’s not a recognised medical term, it absolutely fits my approach to all aspects of life. If I *have* to deal with being anxious and taking on too much to cope, I might as well get a lot out of it. If almost 190 hours of CPD time is what it takes to feel reasonably sane, I’ll do it.

LwL Podcast Episode 41: Lynsey Sampson

In Episode 41 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Lynsey Sampson, Information Services Assistant at the University of Strathclyde.

Lynsey previously worked in public libraries and a mental health service. We discuss CPD, getting bursaries, attending conferences, and visiting libraries abroad. Lynsey’s answer for the dream library job question is excellent and entirely unexpected… #GetOuttaMyPub

I met Lynsey in person at the CILIP Conference in July and she kindly provided one of the soundbites for the conference special. Lynsey blogged about her conference experience here.

I need to apologise for the sound quality in this episode, which was recorded via Skype audio in September. I’ve cleaned it up as much as I can and we both sound significantly less like we did the recording in a public toilet now. You think *this* is a FUBAR? Well, have I got a story for YOU early next year…

The next episode will be released on 27th November and is an extremely sparkly, jazz hands side-special featuring Clare McCluskey Dean, star of Episode 3 of LwL.

LwL Episode 30: Cassandra Gilbert-Ward

In Episode 30 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Cassandra Gilbert-Ward, Assistant Librarian at the National Art Library, housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Cassandra has had a varied career so far and has previous worked in prison, publishing house and academic libraries. We also discuss mental health, and work-life balance. As well as her full-time role, Cassandra is an ILS distance learning student at Sheffield and a keen rower. Cassandra blogs here

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 12th June and stars Louise Burkett.
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 24: Jenny Foster

In Episode 24 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Jenny Foster, who has previously worked in public libraries and further education but has spent the last six years working in various facilities and customer service roles for university libraries. Most recently she has found herself at Edge Hill working to deliver a front line service across not just the library but student services and careers.

Jenny blogs here, not just on libraries. She asked me to add the following statement: After venturing down south for work and getting as far as Southampton I’ve happily returned to my roots in the north where you can get real pies with tops and bottoms  🙂

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 10th April and stars Caitlin McCulloch.
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 15: #Libraruns with Michael Cook

Happy New Year! For Episode 15 of the podcast (the first of 2018) we’re doing something a bit different. When I interviewed Michael Cook for Episode 8, we discovered a mutual love of running and subsequently recorded a side-special of the podcast in October, which Michael called #Libraruns. It turns out that there are LOADS of information professionals who run out there and there’s now a #Libraruns Strava group (do join if you’re a Strava nerd) plans for meet-ups (which neither of us are able to attend, but still…), talk of t-shirts and all kinds of fitness-related fun. It feels like the perfect way to start 2018 as we’re all full of Christmas food enthusiasm.

Michael and I chat about becoming runners (TLDL: If we can take up running in our 30s and look ridiculously awkward SO CAN YOU), what keeps us going, races we’re done, and advice to others. We also get graphic about injuries, reminisce about ‘Punishment runs’ and compare awkward running styles.

There was an awful lot that we couldn’t cover during the recording, so I thought it would be fun if we both did a running-related Q & A. Future podcast guests who are also runners are welcome to fill it out as well and I’ll add it into the show notes.

[MC = Michael Cook, JW = Jo Wood]

1.      When did you go for your first run (and mean it)?

MC – November 2013. After boy was born registered all at same GP and received some very harsh (and motivational) words during check-up. Joined Weightwatchers and started couch to 5k very soon after. Did my first 10k on my birthday in March 2014

JW – March 2012 originally but 6th April 2013 in earnest

2.       Do you describe yourself as a runner or a jogger?

MC – Runner.

JW – Runner of course!

3.       Neutral, overpronator or barefoot?

MC – Overpronator

JW – Overpronator. I’m a very awkward-looking runner

4.       Preferred running shoe brand?

MC – When I fully committed – I got properly measured/gait analysed and was recommended Saucony Omni – still with them

JW – New Balance. The right mix of support and lightweight feel. I wore Brooks for a bit but it was like having two anvils strapped to my feet

5.       What tech do you use?

MC – Wireless Headphones, Runkeeper  (but changing  to something elsewhen premium finishes), phone for runkeeper and music. Fitbit.

JW – FitBit Surge (it has ‘quirks’ but I’m very fond of it), Strava, Nike+ (the first running app I used and I can’t quite let it go), Smashrun (for the graphs)

6.       Strava nerd or free runner?

MC – Nerd. Just generally

JW – Strava nerd, definitely. I’m a late convert to Strava but I can’t imagine running without it now

7.       Best bits of running kit (best buys)?

MC – Good trainers are expensive but worth it. Anything that stops chafing or bleeding is good!

JW – As above, but also: Thorlos padded ankle socks, Shock Absorber sports bras, SoundPeats wireless earphones & Deuter Speed Lite 10 running backpack

8.       Music, podcasts or the sounds of nature?

MC – Music first (but that goes for life. According to Spotify I have listened to 49000 hours of music in 2017). But podcasts and audiobooks can be good for longer, slow runs…

JW – Podcasts for long slow runs (Running Commentary or Marathon Talk), music for everything else, and the sounds of nature when I’m on holiday.

9.       Best motivational running song?

MC – I have a playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/1140735204/playlist/02RQeL33Zojc7lSLJJu5bI

JW – Gotta Work by Amerie and this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/jwo79/playlist/0wSzkT9rp65hA9WjJXWrcJ 

10.   Favourite place to run?

MC – Winter Hill in Bolton. I’m very lucky as I have the countryside just  15 minutes from the front door, so have so many different beautiful routes

JW – Greenwich Park, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Longleat Center Parcs

11.   Longest run you’ve ever done?

MC – Non race 15 miles, it was coming home from a meeting.

JW – I did my first ultramarathon in 2017 – 29.7 miles but lets call it 30 miles eh?

12.   Most embarrassing moment?

MC – Who hasn’t had a pre-dawn poo in a field?

JW – Being very ill, very publicly, during a long run. I always take a complete change of clothes with me (in my Deuter backpack) on runs of more than 14 miles now….

13.   Proudest moment?

MC – I got my 10k PB (48:52) in August 2015 and I prepared so well for the run – not just running, but good diet, cut down on the beer (same for Bolton Half Marathon in 2016) and the feeling of accomplishment was just something else!

JW – Completing the ultra was special. I didn’t know I could until I did. I’m proud of all of my running achievements though (1 ultra, 2 marathons, 9 half-marathons, loads of 10Ks, 37 parkruns and counting…) because I hated the idea of running until I started doing it.

14.   Best motivational tool?

MC – I have kept one of my massive work shirts from when I was 19 ½ stone. It is like one of the parachutes that get used at toddler activities.

JW – I always, always feel better after I’ve been for a run, both physically and mentally so I’m very good at kicking myself out of the front door. Cake. Team Wood cheering me on. Feeling smug.

15.   One piece of advice for newbies?

MC – You are running too quickly, go slower! Also no matter how far you go, whether you walk during it or sprint round like Mo Farah – you are still quicker than everyone sat on their couch.

JW – What Michael said. Also, if you’re planning to run more than 5 miles, slather your feet in Vaseline before you put your socks on. Sounds grim but it makes your feet lovely and soft and helps to prevent blisters.

 

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Episode 16, starring Nick Poole (I KNOW!) will be released next Monday (8th) as I’m going to be out of action for a couple of days afterwards. After that the podcast release day will be Tuesday as normal.

Happy listening!