Chartership chat: Christine Tate and Katie Nicholas
We met whilst studying on the Library and Information Management course at Manchester Metropolitan University. We are now both working towards our CILIP chartership. A key part of the Chartership process is learning more about the wider profession so we thought it would be a great opportunity to compare our roles and responsibilities.
Christine is an Electronic Resources Assistant at the University of Manchester library. She assists the University staff, students, alumni and walk-in users by resolving electronic resources access problems by e-mail, telephone and in person. This involves working with the library's collections team to ensure accurate catalogue records as well as working with publishers, suppliers and subscription agents regarding the technical aspects of subscription activation, access to resources, IP registration and usernames and passwords.
Katie is a Knowledge Officer working at Health Education England, the NHS organisation responsible for supporting the current and future workforce. Her role is to facilitate the sharing of learning within the organisation, help colleagues stay up-to-date, make evidence based decisions and consider and share solutions that capture organisational knowledge.
What are the similarities between our roles?
We used the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base as a basis for comparing our roles and organisations. There are a number of similarities between our roles. We are both influenced by political and economic factors external to the organisations we work in. For example, both the health and higher education sectors are closely monitoring the coverage of Brexit to assess the impact it will have on our organisations.
We found that through our library course and professional experience we had developed similar generic skills. We both have good IT and communications skills that are essential to performing our roles. We are familiar with library and information technologies, using library management systems and cloud-based products such as SharePoint.
We are also both keen Twitter users and find it useful to keep in touch with the wider information profession. We are both involved in project management and have communication skills developed through working with our customers on a daily basis.
Through working in different sectors we have developed different professional expertise:
- Collection management
- Collection development
- Selection of materials and resources
- Collections evaluation and information quality
- Collection promotion
- Knowledge Management
- Knowledge sharing and collaboration
- Knowledge Transfer and Organisational Learning
What are the differences between our roles?
One major difference between our organisations is the scale of the library or knowledge team within them, and the way this impacts on the services we can deliver. Christine has experience in a large higher education institution (40,000 students, 12,000 staff and over 300 library staff) compared to Katie who works in a Knowledge Management team of two serving roughly 2,000 staff across four regions in the whole of England.
The purpose of our roles are very different and after our discussion we came to the conclusion that we represent the spectrum from Information Management (IM) to Knowledge Management (KM). Christine’s role is to manage the information chain within the organisation ensuring students and staff can access the library’s subscribed eResources. Katie’s role is to mobilise knowledge within the organisation, ensure staff share their learning and utilise tools that capture knowledge more effectively.
What did we learn and what comes next?
Despite these difference, our goals are the same, ensuring customers use the resources at their disposal (either subscribed content or each other) to make informed decisions and produce high quality work. Having the discussion allowed us to see all aspects of the information and knowledge cycle within an organisation and see how library and information professionals are helping students/ colleagues navigate this cycle at different stages.
“In the PKSB I identified that KM was something I didn’t know a lot about, however through talking to Katie I learnt about the application of Knowledge Management in practice. I have better understanding of Knowledge Cafes or ‘exchange of experience’ sessions which are useful KM tools for facilitating the sharing of learning. In future I will consider how I can apply these tools in my workplace. It also helped me identify instances when I had facilitated KM in the past.” Christine
“After our conversation I was reminded about the important role of electronic resource management in Library and Knowledge Services. I no longer manage resources or deal with requests of this nature, but the staff we support still need to access information. I learnt about the systematic processes behind the maintenance of eResources and the importance of making systems as usable as possible so that resources are well used. This encouraged to me to check the usability of our internal KM resource page to ensure all our links were up-to-date.” Katie
Our conversation was a reminder of the diversity of the sector – we studied the same postgraduate library course, are both doing Chartership at the same time, but have since specialised in two very different areas. Having looked at the PKSB together we identified were skills overlapped, most of which were in the “Generic skills” domain. This gave us confidence that we had a good understanding of fundamental library skills but also lots of unique expertise.
After discussing our skills and experience using the PKSB we thought the best way to map areas were our skills overlapped, and show how they are unique, was to create a visual (see the diagram below).
Christine Tate (Electronic Resources Assistant, University of Manchester) and Katie Nicholas(Knowledge Officer, Health Education England).