Choosing to Belong

Read this article and more in Weve

In 2007, LIANZA established the New Zealand Professional Registration scheme. The debate about the relevance, applicability and accessibility of this scheme continue to this day. I have chosen to be part of the ongoing conversation. These are my opinions, and my choices, and do not represent the views of my employers – past, present or future.

I choose to be a member of LIANZA. I choose to be Professionally Registered. I choose to participate in the LIANZA Mentor scheme. I choose to pay the cost of my annual association membership and ongoing Professional Registration fees.

My choices are based on a personal decision to engage with and participate in the wider library and information industry, independent of my employer. These choices allow me to be recognised by my peers and the wider industry, with regards to my professional commitment. There are many reasons behind my choices outlined above. They reflect the stage of my career, my geographical circumstances and my professional experiences. My choices may be very different from yours, or not.

Belonging and participating gives me choices.

I can choose to work for an employer who requires Professional Registration as part of a specific job profile, or I can choose not to.

I can choose my professional development activities based on an identified knowledge gap, or I can choose not to.

I can choose to develop my skills in a new professional knowledge area, or I can choose not to.

I can choose my professional development activities based on an identified knowledge gap, or I can choose not to.

I can choose to develop my skills in a new professional knowledge area, or I can choose not to.

Having a benchmark set by a professional association demonstrates to current and future employers that I have met, and/or maintain, a designated standard of professional behaviours. While it is not the only way for my abilities, skills and knowledge to be measured and judged, it is a clear starting point. As a current and future employee of library and information organisations, I can also use this benchmark as a way to inform my employment decisions. I can choose whether or not I want to work for or work with an organisation that supports and encourages the involvement of individuals with a Professional Association and/or the Professional Registration scheme.

There are other key reasons why I participate in the Professional Registration scheme.

Firstly, if I want to work overseas, being part of the Professional Registration scheme is a way to provide international recognition or equivalence of my professional experience.

Secondly, if I choose to change professions, I can demonstrate my commitment to a previous industry that is recognisable through the commonly understood terms of “Professional Association” and “Professional Registration”.

Thirdly, while Professional Registration is not yet embedded as an industry employment standard in New Zealand, this situation may change significantly within the next decade. In choosing to belong and participate, so I am consciously laying foundations for my future career options.

Professional Registration has forced me to consciously reflect, and commit to a viewpoint on a number of issues that previously I wouldn’t have focused on. Professional Registration has opened up my professional networks, given me opportunities and provoked discussion with colleagues. Professional Registration has given me choices.

I will continue to encourage new and recent graduates, to join the Professional Registration scheme, to be involved in the Professional Association, and to move into being a Mentor as their career progresses. I believe belonging and participating are a key ways for emerging professionals to engage with the profession; creating opportunities, developing networks, demonstrating commitment to being an active member of the profession.

It is also a way to establish an individual professional identity, independent of one’s current and future job(s) and employer(s). Individuals should have the option to reflect on their professional experiences, independent from organisational expectations.

We all have the choice to behave and act professionally, or not. We all have the choice to belong to a professional organisation, or not. We all have the choice to participate in the Professional Registration scheme, or not.

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