Your questions answered

This page is intended to accompany the Introductory Presentation and Consultation Draft for Professional Pathways, so please familiarise with these documents first before proceeding.

We are also holding Town Hall meetings in December 2020 and January 2021, which will be an opportunity to you to raise questions and participate in discussions. Questions arising from those sessions will also be added to this page.

If you have any further questions, you can contact us directly at education@alia.org.au

Certification and accreditation

Why should ALIA decide who does and doesn’t get to be a certified LIS professional?

The role of professional certification has been ALIA’s mandate since the Australian Institute of Librarians was established in 1937. However, this is primarily an industry-led initiative, and ALIA has consulted closely with the library sector to devise a new framework that is brought in line with current practices, whilst retaining rigorous standards for professional learning. ALIA will continue to consult with the sector to fine-tune the details of how evidence of skills and knowledge will be assessed, by drawing on the expertise of leading LIS professionals and academics in Australia.

Is it the intention that ALIA becomes a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) like TAFEs and Universities?

No. We want to work with existing educators to deliver learning content to our members.

If there is a Library Certificate equivalent to a TAFE certificate, then what happens to the Certificate III and IV qualifications?

Currently, there are Certificate III and IV qualifications in Library and Information services, these are not currently accredited by ALIA. So, what we’ll be doing is talking to the TAFEs who offer the Certificate III and IV about how we can support them in offering coursework that has industry recognition as a national certificate. During the consultation people told us that a nationally recognised, entry level Library Certificate linked with traineeships was a gap that needed to be filled.

Will there be scope to involve government-funded apprenticeship schemes?

It’s definitely something that we want to explore as an option – it would be fantastic if we could take advantage of these opportunities to bring new funding into the sector.

I am a qualified Library Technician with a Diploma of Library Studies. Can I apply for CLIP status?

A Bachelor Degree is considered to be the minimum level for a professional qualification. To gain CLIP status, you would need to complete at least a degree at an undergraduate level.

If a library technician has an undergraduate qualification in a non-LIS field, could they become a CLIP as well as a CAT?

That is certainly possible, as they would have met the requirement of an undergraduate degree. They will need to demonstrate evidence of LIS skills and knowledge, LIS work experience and commit to ongoing learning. as part of the certification process.

With the certification of new Information Professional CLIPs, how will you quantify their learning, experience, skills and knowledge?

We will be putting in standards, frameworks, a massive piece of work that still needs doing, in determining our certification processes. 2021 will be all about working groups getting together to work out what the appropriate standard is in each sector, and then bringing that work to the Education Board to be compared across sectors, so that we can achieve parity. For example, we don’t want a situation where it’s harder to be an Information Professional CLIP in university libraries than it is in schools, and it still needs to meet the AQF level requirements for minimum of a degree qualification.

Will the people who assess and certify CLIPs be trained to make that call?

There will be a detailed competency framework to guide those people in understanding what makes a certified information professional, and this certification process would certainly be undertaken with close oversight from the ALIA Education Team. 

What does this mean for school libraries and teacher librarian qualifications? Can a teacher become a CLIP?

The bottom line is that we still want teacher librarians. ALIA will continue to advocate for teacher librarians in schools, and recently published revised recommended staffing levels for school libraries. However, this plan also creates flexibility for teacher librarians in the way that they build, manage and develop their teams of library staff. So, for example, a teacher can become a CLIP (as an Information Professional), but this is not the same thing as becoming a teacher librarian.

If somebody with a non-LIS degree qualification can get certification as a CLIP, then where is the incentive for people to go and get a postgraduate LIS qualification?

Whilst a non-LIS professional with a CLIP status would become a professional member of ALIA, this is not the same thing as becoming a librarian, and of course there will still be a demand for roles in libraries that specifically require professional librarian skills, which are attained through an accredited librarianship qualification. Furthermore, by taking on learning that is closely aligned with LIS courses, that may also be an opportunity to encourage non-LIS professionals to pursue further education in the form of a postgraduate degree, with recognition of prior learning.

Why does a LIS undergrad degree require further LIS employment experience to gain CLIP status, where a postgraduate qualification does not? Aren’t they the same qualification, in terms of professional status?

We wanted to recognise that postgraduate study will be at an advanced level of coursework, when compared to an undergraduate degree. However, this should not create a barrier to employment for new graduates from the bachelor degree – we envisage that employers will ask that professionals ‘have CLIP status, or be prepared to work toward one’, and employment experience would make this possible.

What response have you had from LIS Educators regarding this change? Are they happy to be part of this?

Concerns were raised by educators as part of the consultation process, and these have been taken into consideration when finalising the consultation draft. In particular, there was the fear that the qualification would be watered down, and we can assure everybody that this will not be the case. Over time, we have gained support from the majority of LIS educators for this plan, and will continue to work closely with all LIS educators to arrive at a model that not only works best to deliver LIS coursework at all levels but also creates new business opportunities for the universities and TAFEs.

How does this plan compare with international standards of LIS professional qualification?

Both CILIP and LIANZA have established models for recognising certified library professionals. This plan has been developed with these examples in mind, but, we believe, with a greater emphasis on qualifications.

Are there examples of other professional bodies that gone down this route?

In related areas, the Australian Society of Archives has already adopted a similar kind of model, and outside the library and information sector, there are many more. For example, the Law Society of NSW uses peer assessment for specialist accreditation.

Impact on current LIS professionals

What will these changes mean for those of us who have already completed a librarian, teacher librarian or library technician qualification?

ALIA will continue to recognise these qualifications, and work with LIS educators in accrediting their courses in these areas.

I’m already a professional member of ALIA, but I am not participating in the ALIA PD scheme. Will these changes require me to start undergoing professional development to maintain my professional status?

In short, yes. Since ALIA set up the ALIA PD Scheme, it has been ALIA’s stance that participating in ongoing PD is an essential part of maintaining one’s professional status. As of 1 July 2020, all new personal professional members of ALIA are automatically signed up to the ALIA PD Scheme, so it has become opt out rather than opt in.

What form would a ‘commitment to ongoing learning’ take?

At the moment, we’re looking at it being along the same lines as the current ALIA PD Scheme.

Will these changes mean that I will need to pay money to undergo professional development?

No. The ALIA Learning Team already produces the monthly PD Postings newsletter, which is full of free PD activities, which can easily be used to meet the requirements of the PD Scheme.

I am already a member and entitled to use AALIA/FALIA etc – will I keep using these postnominals?  Will our post-nominals change?

There may be a change to the lettering, but what post-nominals represent will remain the same – a recognition of your professional qualification, commitment to professional development, and your contribution to the profession.

I have already been a Certified Practitioner (CP) for more than five years / I am a Distinguished Certified Practitioner (DCP). Do I get to go straight to ‘DCLIP’ status?

Yes. We want to maintain recognition of your current professional status, so this will be the case when we migrate our current Associate Members across into the new framework when it is rolled out in 2022.

I have a master degree, but never did an undergraduate degree. Am I still eligible to become a CLIP?

Yes, you are, as your master degree indicates that you have completed formal learning above the required undergraduate degree level needed to become a CLIP.

Employment in the LIS sector

If there is no longer a requirement for library professionals to hold an LIS qualification, won’t this ‘dumb down’ the field of librarianship?

Not at all. This plan still recognises librarian, teacher librarian and library technician qualifications, but it also embraces other professionals who have studied at an undergrad or postgrad level and gives them a chance to be a part of the industry. These changes will recognise the skills and qualifications of all professionals who work in the library and information sector, and provide them with a clear pathway to achieve a status of a certified library and information professional (CLIP).

Will a CLIP status be mandatory for library professional work, like a CPA or a Registered Teacher?

It won’t be mandatory in the same way as a CPA or in other industries where you need the certification or you can’t practice. What we’re working towards is a situation where job ads will say ‘Requires somebody who is a CLIP or is prepared to study towards CLIP status.’

There aren’t enough jobs for all of the current graduates from library and information studies courses. Won’t these changes just flood the sector with more eligible workers and create more competition for those few available jobs?

It’s one thing to have a qualification, but where are the jobs going to be?

This plan has been prepared in consultation with library employers, many of whom are already employing staff from non-LIS professional fields. What these changes do is bring our professional recognition framework in line with current practice and provide an opportunity for us to embrace one aspect of the diversity of our workforce.

I am a teacher librarian and had to undertake two degrees. However, a principal could interpret this plan as a way to hire a teacher in a teacher librarian role. What reassurances have you got from Education departments they won’t just use this to stop hiring teacher librarians with LIS degrees.

A CLIP-status Information Professional is designed to sit alongside Librarians and Teacher Librarians, not replace them. Only somebody who has completed the ALIA-accredited Teacher Librarian qualification will be considered a Teacher Librarian. We will be developing a very clear framework which will be vital in informing employers on what the competencies are for certified library workers at all levels, and it will also build a broader understanding in our communities of library employment pathways. The ALIA team will be talking to state and territory Departments of Education to share the Professional Pathways work and we see this as a further opportunity to build our case for Teacher Librarians in schools.

With the creation of new pathways and terminology, how will employers (bearing in mind that some won’t have an understanding of our professional qualifications) continue to have certainty about their understanding of whether somebody is a librarian or not? (eg If a non-LIS qualified CLIP claims to be a librarian) Are we clarifying things or muddying things?

There will be a clear skills and knowledge framework, which will help articulate this. We will be developing communications that will very clearly explain to employers what each qualification and certification means in terms of skills and knowledge, as we establish these frameworks in the coming year.

Where do you see this certified status fitting in terms of industrial relations pay rates?

It is vital that we don’t in any way damage the existing awards for library professionals. So we’ll need to work with many stakeholders in each of the states and territories, and across each of the industrial sectors. We also need to look to see if we can take advantage of the opportunity to insert the profession into some pay awards where they may not currently exist. This is why ALIA has invested in recruiting a special team to work on this, because there is going to be so much detail to go through to achieve the best outcomes.

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Last updated: 3 December 2020