Starting the ALIA Continuing Professional Development scheme

I started working at La Trobe University Library a year ago next week. I finished my Masters in Information Management about 6 months ago. And this month, I finally got around to upgrading my ALIA membership to the Professional level.

Which means it’s time for me to get started on the ALIA Continuing Professional Developement (CPD) scheme.

Basically, this scheme is to encourage librarians to keep their professional skills and knowlegde up to date. If you complete the required CPD in a year, you get to add a little title after your name.


The requirements are:

  • 30 hours of CPD per year (measured from 1 July to 30 June)
  • A total to 120 hours of CPD every three years (so, an additional 30 hours on top of the annual requirement)

That translates to about an hour a week. Which seems very do-able.

What counts as CPD?

Oddly, there’s not a clear defintion of what counts as CPD on the website. The best defintion I could find was in a tiny font at the bottom of their 100+ Ideas for your Professional Development document:

If you learn something new that has an impact on your future practice, then itโ€™s PD.

The documents gives plenty of examples of PD:

  • Professional reading (journals, books, blogs, etc.)
  • Attending library events and conferences
  • Training and education
  • Mentoring or being mentored
  • Writing about the industry (inc. blogging. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Specialisations, Competencies and Skills Audits

I assume you can just do generic library-related CPD to count towards the scheme. But ALIA does offer 10 different Specialistions to reflect the needs of different types of libraries. The Specialisations include Schools, Public Library, Government, Health and – most relevant for me – Research/Academic.

Within each Specialisation are Competencies – the sort of things librarians should be able to do. Under the Research/Academic specialisation, for example, the competencies include Awareness of the scholarly research lifecycle and the policies, practices and trends that impact the research environment, and the different roles of libraries in supporting research as well as teaching and learning and Apply technology and systems to manage research outputs and other scholarly information resources, and support teaching and learning.

ALIA also provide a Skills Audit template. This lists several skills under each Competency, and asks you to rate your abiltiy in each one to help you determine what sort of PD you would benefit from the most.

ALIA also provide members with a CPD Logbook on their website so we can track what we’ve done. You’re also expected to write a short reflection on each piece of PD.

All this feel suspicously like filling out a character sheet in Dungeons & Dragons.

Working through it

It took me about half an hour to read through the webpages about the CPD scheme, and write up my own summary (which is one of the best ways for me to learn something).

I hit a bit of an issue when it came to selecting a Specialisation: the Research/Academic specialisation has a choice of three different streams: General, Teaching and Learning, or Research.

I wasn’t sure which one was the most appropriate for me, as a systems librarian. I’m guessing the Teaching and Learning stream is for subject liasion librarians. Research could be relevant. In the end, I decided to go with General.

The Skills Audit worksheets are provided as PDFs. I spent about 15 minutes copying that into a Google sheet, which is easier for me to work with long term. Then I spent about an hour completing it.

The hardest part of completing the skills audit was not really having a basis of comparison.

Next steps

I need to do an hour of CPD a week, write up a short reflection on each piece, then log it on the ALIA website.

Where do I want to start my PD? These are the three things that come to mind based on that skills audit:

  1. Write up an Introduction to University Libraries to consolidate all the ad hoc knowledge I’ve picked up along the way.
  2. Refresh my memory on how to evaluate the quality of journal articles, etc. beyond just ticking the “peer reviewed” facet in the discovery layer.
  3. Research the sort of metrics other libraries collect about the usage of their discovery layers.


About davidwitteveen

IT person. Zine Maker. Level 0 Library Nerd. Doctor Who fan.
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