ASSOCIATES (2005, March, v. 11, no. 3) -

*Certification - Almost There!*


Jim Jackson
Chair, National Committee for Affiliated Members Group of CILIP
University of Exeter

Five years ago, on what seems to me to be a different planet, the Affiliated Members Group of CILIP organised a project called Book IT. Which was a world first for worldwide collaboration by library assistants around the UK, and around the world. It was a huge success!! See or at

What has this to do with certification and the award of the post-nominals ACLIP? I would like to think that it suddenly made library managers and professional organisations aware of the talents and skills of their workforce. It also possibly contributed to the start of discussions for developing a career path for library staff, in conjunction with such schemes as the Information and Library Services National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ). Vocational qualifications have always been a viable opportunity, in my opinion, for library staff to gain nationally acceptable qualifications, via competence based training. These qualifications have not been without their critics and their problems of delivery. But NVQ’s have survived and changed to meet changing needs of employers and staff. Having obtained their NVQ awards it was a natural progression to expect their professional body to accept them for membership in its fullest sense. This was something which CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals ( needed to address and to accept. It’s something which I have discussed before at:

What is so important now is that the talking is over, the new Framework of Qualifications starts on 2nd April 2005! This is not a small change to the regulations, but a fundamental change, bringing together new qualifications in one structure. This will allow and enable people to move up the ladder of qualification via competence-based portfolio work and by academic achievement. Further more this Framework is designed to be changed and amended as required, rather than be set in stone forever.

Certification and the award of the post nominals ACLIP can best be defined as ‘certification is the recognition of the contribution made in Library and information work by paraprofessionals. Affiliated members of CILIP may apply for certification. The award will be recognised by the award of the new post-nominal letter ACLIP, which holders will be entitled to use whilst they remain in membership.’

Portfolio building is becoming much more common place these days, and follows the style used in all vocational qualifications.

Why prepare a portfolio?

CILIP require the information to be presented in a set format and have huge experience of assessing portfolio’s, in relation to Chartership awards. Great care has been taken to take account of staff who have extended levels of service in ILS (Information Library Service) and other related areas.

Category 1 is for those who have five years LIS service and over. The portfolio you will need to prepare will need to reflect on your work experiences. You will need to provide an evaluative comment on the skills you have gained and the training you have received. Your portfolio should contain a summary of your personal training over the period, and show a reflection on the training you have received.

While Category 2 is for those with up to 2 years ILS service. Again you will need to show how you have reflected on your training; you should provide a summary of how your practical knowledge has been developed through training.

For both portfolio’s you must remember to include all your certificates of training for courses you have attended and completed, or their equivalent.

Two of the major problems which were considered before the Framework was finalised was the use of mentors, and how to maintain the flow of up-to-date information. The first problem has been tackled by engaging a number of skilled LIS people across the country who have offered to assist people with their preparations. This is often a question of support via email or telephone rather than face-to-face meetings.

The second problem is more difficult due to the vast nature of library and information locations, and the possible cost implications of sending out updates for parts of the framework. So initial hard print copies are available but future copies are designed to be available via the web, and via CD’s. The advantage of CD distribution is that this is a cheap way of updating information, and the CD can be networked to libraries which perhaps do not have internet connection from a single institutional location. There will of course be copies of the Framework documents available in alternative formats should they be required. This method should allow people to access the information they need when they need it.

Certification is very much ‘user driven’ in as much that candidates must gather together their own evidence of competence and training. But this should not come as too much of a surprise, as with any academic course, you need to research, collect and collate information, and present it in a required format. There will be a new style of mentor, to assist with this process that will guide and encourage the candidate. It should be remembered that gaining the Certification award does not automatically qualify someone for a pay rise. It will however allow people to substantiate a claim perhaps, or allow them to apply for jobs which they might not have able to before. The development of electronic communication has enabled the scheme to be available in almost all areas, on an equal basis for all library and information staff. Without the requirement to have regular face-to-face meetings, as these can be done via web casts or similar types of internet access. It is only if witness statements are required that visits will be required. This does not mean that face-to-face meetings are not a good idea, but no longer a requirement. This should help those working in single staff units of all descriptions, as well as those living in more remote areas, or if transport is a problem.

It should be remembered that where possible some of the best ideas and best practice procedures from other countries have been included, and enacted upon. Those countries still working towards a framework of this sort, such as America, should take heart from the fact that there is an ‘end product’ to all this debate. While library assistants or paraprofessionals should do all they can to engage in the debate and ensure that it moves on to a productive conclusion. Flexibility and forward thinking need to be the main proposals, so that skill development can continue, and be recognised.

You can find out all about the Framework of Qualifications from the Affiliated Members Group web site at: or directly at: with a direct link is at :

I do hope that if you are able to apply for Certification, that you are successful, and that you feel that at long last you are recognised as a Professional rather than a Paraprofessional.

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