Maria Mawson has worked in the Library at the University of Sheffield since 2000, and is the Faculty Librarian for Social Sciences. She is a Fellow of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and an HEA Senior Fellow. Here she talks about her route to Senior Fellowship, and why other librarians should consider applying.
My role involves working in partnership with faculty leadership to ensure that learning, teaching and research are fully supported by the Library, and that effective use is made of Library services and resources. This includes advising on the development of information literacy in the curriculum, and I also plan and deliver information literacy teaching activities.
Continuing professional development has been part of my practice throughout my career. I became a Chartered Librarian a few years after completing my MA, and in 2016 I successfully applied for Fellowship, the highest level of professional registration available from CILIP. My thoughts then turned to the next steps in my development, and I decided that I would like to seek recognition for my teaching and other activities that support learning.
HEA Professional Recognition is strongly supported in my University, which operates a Learning & Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme accredited by the HEA and aligned with the UKPSF. I attended an introductory workshop, with the intention of applying for Fellowship. However, based on my role in the institution, and level of experience, one of the Professional Development Managers strongly advised me to apply for Senior Fellowship instead. I received further encouragement from Professor Sally Bradley from the HEA when she was speaking at an event at my University. I had a great “buddy” working with me throughout the process, part of a scheme offered by my University, and I exchanged ideas with a friend from another University who was also applying, so I had lots of support.
Any librarians that have participated in CILIP Professional Registration will recognise similarities in the HEA process, including reflecting on your practice, and gathering evidence to support your case. Applications for Senior Fellowship must demonstrate engagement across all five areas of activity and an understanding of all aspects of core knowledge in the UKPSF, in addition to commitment to professional values. I found it challenging to demonstrate engagement with some of these dimensions, but talking them through with my (non-librarian) buddy and other colleagues was invaluable in helping me to understand how the dimensions related to my own practice. Senior Fellows must also provide evidence of sustained effectiveness in relation to teaching and learning, demonstrating for example wider advisory responsibilities within their institution. As I worked on my application I was pleased to realise that in my role this was definitely the case, and this increased my belief and confidence in the value of what I do.
Preparing my application led me to engage in new professional development activities, such as peer observation of teaching. I was also motivated to take advantage of new opportunities, such as joining a mentoring network, so it was a developmental process, not simply a case of recording what I do already.
I’m really pleased that the Fellowship scheme is flexible enough to allow staff in different roles to apply for professional recognition, as I think this demonstrates the importance of academic and professional services staff collaborating and working in partnership to deliver institutional strategies and objectives.
Many librarians will be operating at Senior Fellowship level, and if you are thinking about applying for HEA recognition, I’d encourage you to look at UKPSF Descriptor 3, and consider how it relates to your role and experience - you could be closer to Senior Fellowship than you think!
For further information about Fellowship please click here.