Saturday, 9 October 2010

CILIP Training: Timely or Insensitive?

I've been stewing on this ever since I opened a letter from CILIP yesterday advertising a training course called "Recruiting, managing and working with volunteers". I'm not into CILIP bashing for the sake of it - to be honest I sometimes feel that CILIP members have too high expectations of what a professional organisation can do - after all - they are not supposed to be a trade union. However, in a climate where a lot of professionals are now worried about losing their jobs and there is much talk of volunteers replacing paid, professional staff, this letter really got my goat.

Just for the record, I'm not completely against volunteers in libraries, there are certain tasks for which I think they provide really valuable input. There's great work in libraries that would not get done if it weren't for volunteers. My problem though, is with the idea that volunteers can replace paid library workers and I know I'm not the only one who has these concerns. In my opinion, training on the issues surrounding volunteers in libraries - and what professionals can do to ensure that their organisations recognise the value that their professional or paid staff add would be timely. However, looking at the itinerary, this training seems much more geared around recruiting and training volunteers.

I realise I've probably got the wrong end of the stick but with the training costing £220 for members, it just felt to me a bit like CILIP were capitalising on a situation  that a lot of its members are very concerned about (apologies for some slightly "ranty" tweets yesterday!). From the opening sentence of the letter "With the use of volunteers increasing in library and information services it is vital to ensure you are managing and recruiting them correctly." you could argue that this training is timely, but as a librarian, receiving this letter felt a bit like my professional body has given up. I know they're not a trade union, but where there is a conflict of interest between policy/ strategy/ management and professionals, I would expect them to come down on the side of the professional - and for that to be reflected in their training offering.

Am I being too harsh on CILIP? I'd love to hear some discussion on this.

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