Sunday, 21 February 2010

What is CILIP?


It's easy to dismiss Twitter as inane but I find it often sparks an idea or gives you insight into other's points of view.

Anyone who follows librarians on Twitter will have seen a fair bit of CILIP-bashing. In fact I've been known to engage in the odd venting of spleen in CILIP's direction myself. Sometimes this has been borne of genuine frustration, sometimes misunderstanding or sometimes (I have to admit) just sheer grumpiness on my part.

My own views on CILIP have changed a bit over the last few years. As I was qualifying (in a public authority that was sacking professional librarians left, right and centre) I thought CILIP should engage more actively with employers to protect jobs and ensure that professional roles were properly rewarded. Looking back, I wonder if I was expecting them to fulfil the role of a trade union?

Later, as I was chartering, I was impressed by the number of (mostly free) events that my local sub-branch put on and my views on CILIP changed a bit. At branch (or SIG) level, the member benefits (like free events) happen because of people who give their time for free to organise these things. Which, I think is why it gets my back up a bit when people complain about there never being any local events. I tend to react to this in an evangelical way, which can come across as patronising - apologies to anyone who's experienced this ;-)

The irony is, I'm still frustrated by CILIP at national level. The cost, the bureaucracy, the length of time it takes to get a response from head office, the resistance to change, ineffective consultation with members (I could go on)... If local benefits are provided by individuals giving their time and there are so many frustrations at national level - just what are our subs paying for?

In the year of the Big Conversation, it seems like CILIP are trying to address the way their members feel about them. It's a good time to answer some of these questions in my own mind so in future posts on this I'll be looking at:

1) What is the role 0f a professional body, and is CILIP a good or bad example?
2) Is CILIP membership too expensive? How does it compare to other professional bodies and what value do we get from it?
3) How can branches engage better with librarians at a local level e.g. what do they need to do to make it easy for people to get involved? How can CILIP at national level facilitate this?
4) What should CILIP expect from it's members? Is paying the subs enough or do we all need to get a bit more, well, involved?

If anyone's made it to the end of this post, well done! ...and feel free to comment.


  1. Well I worked backwards to here.

    Thanks for the interesting and well argued posts. Definite grist for the #cilipfuture mill.

  2. Thanks for your comments Alan. I've been surprised by responses (on the blog and on twitter) in favour of revalidation. In "real" life, most of the people I've spoken to have been against it - however it appears that there are a significant number of people (myself included) who see it as a good thing.