ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Jim Jackson wrote his first article for the November 1994, Associates and has continued to be a frequent contributor and enthusiastic supporter of Associates.]

*Happy Birthday 'Associates'*


Jim Jackson
University of Exeter

I am delighted to have been asked to contribute to this 10th anniversary publication of Associates.

Little did I realise back in November 1994 what effect that article would have on my life, and to a certain extent, perhaps on others. This was my first article for Associates and was called ‘In Service Training’ and can still be found at

Back in 1994 I had just completed a job exchange with Southampton University Library and found it a rewarding, innovative, inspiring and exhausting experience. I came back suddenly aware of how big the library world was, but also how similar in many basic ways. This may seem obvious to those who have done this themselves, but to me it was a revelation. It should be remembered that back in 1994 library assistants in the UK had little or no say in any type of management decision making, career progression or involvement in what is now termed ‘life long learning’.

Encouraged by this exchange, I was able to approach my Librarian and seek permission and support to complete a Library and Information Service qualification. After a lot of hard work, I completed my qualification but wanted to share the experience with a wider community. So in November 1995 I wrote an article called ‘What’s an NVQ ? in which I tried to explain as clearly as possible what it was all about, and more importantly how others could also follow what I had done ( There followed a period when I concentrated my learning experiences on this type of qualification, while also encouraging others to experience this type of qualification. I was invited to speak to many groups at various training events, and have been pleased at the reaction that these ideas started in others.

With the coming of the new century, 2000, my colleagues and I on the Affiliated Members National Committee decided that we should do ‘something big’ to mark the occasion. I was asked to lead this, and the ideas we had developed into the Book IT project ( I wrote to Associates for help and support, and Kendall Simmons was very supportive. This was detailed in the March 1999 edition and was entitled ‘A Time to Celebrate’ ( We invited everyone, in every library, to join us in the project. This project then almost took over my life for a year and a half. Combing other people’s ideas to form a central platform for our theme of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ by William Shakespeare. What a wonderful collection of people I found during this project! Kendall Simmons and Carol Borzyskowski helped with web site design and provided endless support. There was another article before the event took place on 24th June 2000, (Mid Summers Day of course) which was called "Latest News on the Book IT Project" in the March 2000 edition at . Due to the outstanding success of the project, by lots of people all over the world, a review of the project was carried out and published in November 2000 called ‘Where were you?’ (

One of the greatest successes of Associates has been the scope and depth of articles written for it by library staff. In March 2001, Gail Shank wrote an article called ‘The Challenge of the Learning Disabled Patrons’ ( This was, I thought, an excellent article full of expertise and practical help. It reflected part of my changing role where I worked as well. So, in July 2001, I wrote a reply article called ‘A Look into the Future’ ( which examined some of the possible forthcoming developments in the provision of library services for disabled users. An area of library work that was sadly neglected at that time, but now improving greatly. This is a great way of getting best practice information to front line people wherever they may be.

March 2002 brought the IFLA conference to the UK, to Glasgow, and a general invitation was sent to everyone to attend. It coincided with the ‘birth’ of CILIP, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, following a merger of the Institute of Information Scientist’s and the Library Association. This was all recorded in the article of March 2002 entitled ‘Professionals at IFLA’ ( This looked at how we react to each other at conferences and meetings, in relationship to status and qualification. The whole concept of improved status and recognition of qualification was taking up a lot of my time then, and continues to do so still.

Before I got even more involved in this subject I wanted to return to a subject that Associates had covered before, that of disabilities. My connection with disability services had grown considerably since my last article, both at work and on a personal level.

So in July 2002, I wrote an article called ‘Alone in a Crowd’, in which I tried to give some practical tips on using various computer programmes and PC’s ( Whenever I am asked to contribute to either a training seminar or an article to Associates, I always try to remember the focus of the message. This is very important, as time management matters to junior library staff as much as it does to senior staff (time set aside for training is often a rare and precious occasion).

As part of my continuing involvement with library staff training, and the difficult question of library staff status, I asked what people’s job titles were and recorded my results in the July 2003 edition called ‘Job Titles and Beyond’, ( where I tried to look beyond job titles to see how staff could progress on some sort of career path. I had the great opportunity to discuss job progression at the Umbrella Conference in Manchester (UK) in July 2003. This huge conference is open to all library staff, regardless of rank, or status, and attracts a good cross section from all over the UK, as well as other countries. You can read about the conference in my November 2003 article called ‘Umbrella – A Conference Report’ (

Coming up to date, the future of library qualifications looks certain to change in the UK, with some effects being felt overseas as well. This does not mean, sadly, that those line managers who refuse staff time off to attend courses will change. What it will do, however, is make them more visible from those who do recognise the need, and so, hopefully, make them change. It is their retraining needs which need attending to as well as our own, which I hope, I can help develop and enhance in the future. With all this work on qualification recognition I was asked to write about it, and did so in the March 2004 edition, with an article entitled ‘Qualification and Certification – Some Personal Views' ( This work has me involved in the decision making progress of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) regarding Affiliate membership of CILIP, for the development and acceptance of different qualifications and the revalidation of academic related awards. It’s a huge task, and is being undertaken by a variety of people.

Associates has, for me, given unimagined opportunities for learning and sharing. The simple opportunity to write either a letter or article on a topic that YOU think might interest others, and have that published is priceless. This applies to the whole world, and one of my all time favourite articles was by Carol Borzyskowski called ‘Are we up yet ?’ ( which detailed the problems of not only launching a web site, but persuading senior staff that you know what you are doing. Which is perhaps more than they do! She touched on so many of the problems I was having at the time, that it made me laugh with relief. I don’t know if you have come across the phrase ‘A trouble shared is a trouble halved.’ Even if the people next to you will not share your problem, or even are the problem, then Associates is the place to express your feelings, within reason of course. So do write if you feel the urge, or want to know something; I am sure Wendee, as Editor, would love to hear from you.

So a very happy birthday to Associates, a special thanks to Kendall Simmons for conceiving the idea, and to all of you who read it, and are its supporters.

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