Monday, 16 May 2011

Our Professional Future is looking bright

'Construction work' by gullevek on Flickr
After work today I popped over to the UL to hear Annie Mauger (CEO of CILIP and all-round lovely lady) give a talk to CILIP East of England branch on 'Our Professional Future: Building Together'. This event was apparently suggested by someone on Twitter, and whoever it was that suggested it, thanks! It was an interesting and a really enjoyable talk.

Last year CILIP took a good look at the future of the profession and of CILIP itself, conducting surveys and talking to members, and coming up with a report titled 'Defining our Professional Future'. (This can be read here.) The event this evening was about how the findings of this report will shape the future of the organisation. In the face of big external issues such as cuts to library services and undervaluing of professional staff, members expect their professional body to put up a strong front and be a voice for library advocacy, but meanwhile CILIP is also facing internal challenges - the biggest being financial struggles and being relevent to its members.

As a response to that last challenge, Annie laid out three areas that had come from the report as being key to members' expectations and needs from CILIP:
  • Advocacy and thought leadership
  • Networking and community
  • Continuing professional development
For many people, and for me, advocacy is the most critical of these at the moment. We're really lucky in Cambridge to have so many libraries packed so closely together, and to have local groups like the Cambridge Library Group, so there's already a really strong community, and being a member of CILIP has so far not added a whole lot to the networking side of things for me. Chartership is (thankfully) a lot further in the future than I'm thinking about right now, and I don't have a lot of use for CILIP's training courses when at Cambridge we have so many excellent free training courses put on for us by Librarians in Training. However, I can totally see where Annie is coming from when she says that these three areas support each other and are all essential for the organisation as a whole. Big advocacy events such as Save Libraries Day are impossible without a strong community. And if in a couple of years time I find myself newly moved to a new area to take a job as, say, an information officer at a business, going to meetings of my local branch would be one of the best ways to meet librarians in an unfamiliar place.

As for the advocacy, one thing I thought was great was Annie describing the move away from a reactive stance to a proactive stance on campaigning and dealing with the media. More public material is going up on the CILIP website, including campaigning toolkits. A 4-day press release approval process has been cut to 4-minutes!

To bolster the financial side of things (I don't think I've ever used the word bolster before. Good word!), CILIP have set an ambitious target of reaching 20,000 members by 2020 (there are currently about 17,000). The structure of the organisation is also going to have a bit of a revamp, including streamlining branches and groups (for more background see Emma's blogpost on this) and trying to minimise admin stuff and duplication of effort.

Above all else, the theme of this talk was CILIP's members. who really seem to be at the heart of their new plan. I haven't been a member of CILIP for very long, so I can't really comment on how much better or worse the future of the organisation is likely to be, but I definitely came away feeling very positive.


  1. Thanks for the summary.

  2. Thanks Sarah, I hope your back is feeling better!