γνῶθι σεαυτόν – Applying for Accreditation

This week’s blog comes from Simona Cenci, Conservator at the National Library of Scotland. Simona discusses her experience of applying for professional accreditation through Icon. Did you know that if you are a Conservator living and working in Scotland, you can apply for a grant of £350 towards the costs of the PACR process? Click here for more information and how to apply…

γνῶθι σεαυτόν (“know thyself”)

With this ancient religious maxim, carved on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the god exhorted human beings to get to know themselves and their limits.

When I was asked to write a short blog article about PACR, I initially thought of sharing my experience explaining the reasons why I decided to apply and what the process was like, but half way through I changed my mind. Technical aspects or motivation, in fact, are not what I remember when I look at the process retrospectively.

National Library of Scotland Conservation.

Simona Cenci in the National Library of Scotland conservation studio. Image courtesy of Maverick Photography

Before embarking on the application process, I thought that PACR was all about conservation. I thought that the purpose of the process was to demonstrate a good grasp of conservation theory and practice, and an in-depth knowledge of the professional standards. And to do this, I assumed it was necessary to choose the most valuable and effective projects I had worked on, and those where my professional judgement proved successful. Certainly, these aspects play an important role in the process, but there is another aspect, just as central, that I had not considered before. The accreditation was all about me. What I discovered with surprise is that the exercise of looking back at my education and work experience was not solely designed to compile a list of impersonal good practices, but it also functioned to allow me to get to know myself as a professional. That meant also acknowledging some weaknesses and failures, and valuing them as part of a personal development path. Looking at my career with this holistic view enabled me to set a full stop and to start a new professional paragraph, with the understanding that in this challenging and complex profession every achievement is a new starting point.

Simona Cenci in the National Library of Scotland conservation studio. Image courtesy of Maverick Photography

Simona Cenci in the National Library of Scotland conservation studio. Image courtesy of Maverick Photography

The accreditation journey also gave me the opportunity to discover an incredible network of colleagues willing to help. This is a good occasion to express my gratitude for all the help and support I received from my former and present employers, managers and colleagues, and from all the individuals that I had the privilege to get to know during the process, including the ones who were directly involved with the procedure. Special thanks should also go to Icon Scotland, which supported me financially by covering part of the application fee.

In conclusion, thanks to PACR I realised that knowing myself is the best way to respect myself – both as a person and as a professional – and to respect the cultural heritage I am called to conserve. Therefore, the only advice I feel comfortable in giving to those who intend to undertake this journey is to be honest with themselves and to use the process as an opportunity to understand where they are and where they would like to go as professionals.

And finally, I would like to wish a safe journey to the ones who are about to start this voyage.

Simona Cenci ACR
Conservator, Collections Care Department
National Library of Scotland

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