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Librarians Awake!

11 May 2015 | Steve Bowman Steve Bowman, Deputy Librarian at the University of Chichester.

This blog was originally posted on the former Higher Education Academy website.

Hi, I’m Steve Bowman, Deputy Librarian at the University of Chichester. As a professional Librarian since 1992 I have been working in educational institutions for over 20 years. I first became aware of the HEA about 12 years ago, when I was employed in a large FE college in Sussex, and as a visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton. I had been a member of the Library Association (now CILIP) since 1988, and became an Associate in 2004. Following a move to Ravensbourne College of Art and Design in 2004 I joined a small group of academic colleagues in applying for ‘Practitioner’ status within the HEA. At the time (and even now to some degree) the HEA was seen as a body ‘for’ academics, and I was the only non-academic staff member in this first cohort.

Along with this small group of academics, I was awarded ‘Practitioner’ status in 2004, which was converted to ‘Fellow’ later that year. Since that time I have been working exclusively in Higher Education Institutions, and have valued my membership of the HEA. I always felt that (as with the Subject Centres) there should have been a forum for ‘Professional Services’ staff on the website, and in the practices of the HEA. With this in mind I ran a series of conference talks and presentations throughout 2012-2013 entitled ‘Librarians Awake’ in which I urged professional services staff (and in particular Librarians) to look beyond their libraries and institutions, and begin to see how they could receive the recognition that they deserve for their learning and teaching support role.

In 2005 I became a Fellow of CILIP and began to expand my interest in the wider elements of Learning and Teaching, and the higher educational landscape. The creation of the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) which brings the areas of professional and technical expertise together with the generic skills and capabilities required by those in the library, information and knowledge management community, gave me an earlier opportunity to look at my professional practice in an objective way. Comparison of the PKSB and the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) showed that both CILIP and the HEA recognise that a reflective approach to professional development allows the practitioner to ‘raise their game’, both professionally, and educationally.

Since starting as Deputy Librarian at the University of Chichester in 2011 I have become increasingly involved in the learning and teaching role, both through supporting academic departments with resources and services, and through teaching and lecturing, both to staff and students at the university, and in the region, delivering modules within the Developing Digital Literacy course, on E-copyright and The use of E-Resources, and in 2014 constructing and facilitating a PGCert module on ‘The Pedagogy of E-learning’. It was during this period that the university sought accreditation from the HEA for its Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) provision, and was successful in doing so. This in turn led to a re-invigoration of the institution’s drive towards full HEA Fellowship status for all academic staff, and a round of promotional materials were issued across the university community.

Having been one of the first cohort (back in 2005) to apply for, and be awarded Fellowship, I felt that this would provide an excellent opportunity to progress my professional accreditation through applying for ‘Senior Fellow’ status. Along with a group of 5 academic colleagues I undertook the ‘portfolio’ route to application, and was successful in April 2015 in being awarded Senior Fellow status. The portfolio route was particularly fruitful for me, because it gave me the opportunity to ‘step back’ from the day-to-day tasks of supporting learning and teaching within the University and really look at how my professional development since my becoming a Fellow had impacted on and influenced my learning and teaching practice. The work that I undertook on the PGCLTHE was particularly important in that it was the first opportunity that I had had to put into practice the pedagogic underpinning that I had learned whilst undertaking my MSc in ‘E-learning’ during 2007-10.

In this increasingly competitive market, with pressure (especially within HEIs) to explicitly recognise and promote the ‘professionalism’ of staff and services, it is essential that all staff are offered the chance to gain an HEA award. I am pleased to say that 2 of my current staff (both Subject Librarians) are currently in the application process for Fellowship through the University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) route. In the future I anticipate that professional services staff from IT and Support Services departments will also achieve accreditation through this means.

In an increasingly professional marketplace it is essential that staff across institutions, in both the academic and professional services roles, can engage with national bodies such as the HEA in order to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to operate in our modern educational environment.

So, come on all of you ‘Professional Services’ staff, the HEA is not ‘just’ for our academic colleagues, we can all be a part of the drive towards standards and professionalism.

We do a great job, let’s get the recognition that we deserve!

Find out more about Fellowship.

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