I was talking with a few colleagues the other day about our professional body, CILIP, and reasons for renewing or not renewing subs. We also discussed the Update Magazine. I say this as I prepare to re-join after a year of non-membership.
What became apparent, from this small straw poll, was that the main reason for membership was the Gazette (which lists the latest jobs). Now, of course you can see most of these post via CILIP’s LISJob section on the CILIP website – without the need for membership.
So, dear reader, I guess my question is, if you’re a member, why are you a member? Out of habit? because you think it looks good if you are? some other reasons? If you’re not a member, what would make you want to become one??
So Here’s what people thought:
- lo-fi Says:
January 27th, 2008 atAbsolutely nothing, say it again!Sorry, couldn’t help the Edwin Starr reference. I let my CILIP membership lapse. The main reason being that we have an institutional membership at work, so I get to see the mags and get discounts on courses anyway. Update isn’t all that bad, but in reality most of the news is old news by the time it goes to print and I don’t often find the features all that relevant to me. The Gazette lets us down by including low paid jobs. A bit more vetting would be good. I have seen what CILIP are trying to do with blogs, but in my opinion they should be doing more online. Blogging news and developments as they happen, podcasting interviews with people that they can get access to because they’re CILIP. Stuff like that. At the moment I don’t feel like I get anymore out of reading their output than I do spending time in my Google Reader reading blogs by librarians who blog for free and because they are passionate (?) about what they do.I have been on a lot of CILIP course and I think most have been pretty worthwhile, so I’d give them a better score as far as training goes. I’d love to see some sort of online social software course in the vein of what Meredith Farkas and others have done. But as a freebie for members? I shan’t hold my breath.
In terms of professional representation? I don’t know, I reckon BIALL is more relevant to me.
Of course, I will take all this back if I decide to go for Chartership.
- Jennifer Says:
January 28th, 2008 atCILIP don’t really seem to engage with the needs of corporate/special librarians. It seems like they’re pretty good with the public and academic set, but they just don’t seem to be doing enough to support all the rest of us. And they certainly aren’t doing enough to support the need for an increase in wages across the profession as a whole.I’m not a member myself at the moment, and don’t really plan on becoming one anytime soon. As far as professional support bodies go, BIALL is certainly a lot more relevant to my immediate needs and interests. Indeed, something like Meredith Farkas’ course would be awesome, but I can’t see it happening any time soon!
- Emily Says:
January 28th, 2008 atI left CILIP about 3 years ago feeling very disillusioned. I used to work in public libraries and was de-professionalised in a restructure. What was CILIP’s reponse? Can’t do anything. However, I recently sat next to someone who works for CILIP at a conference and asked her the same question – what is the point of being a member? – and I have to say that I did feel quite ashamed of having left. She asked me if I thought the professional qualification should be retained and if I thought it useful. I said ‘yes’, and then she pointed out who it was that accredited these courses and ensured that the profession retained the need for a recognised qualification to join it.
Having reflected upon all that she said, though I’m still not a member. Since they seem so proud to be involved in the promotion of librarianship as a profession why were they so unbelievably unhelpful when I needed them due to a de-professionalisation? And the person that I spoke to worked for the marketing department, so if she couldn’t put an excellent spin on it I would wonder why CILIP were wasting their money!
- Meg Says:
January 29th, 2008 atI have been debating this as well as my membership renewal is coming up. BIALL provides far more things of use/interest to me (and I am considerably more active in BIALL than CILIP) and CILIP doesn’t really provide me with anything I haven’t found elsewhere. I…haven’t read my copy of update in awhile and get the jobs emailed to me.I will probably renew this year because I currently qualify for student prices but next year I will have to seriously consider whether or not I continue my membership.
- J Says:
February 1st, 2008 atIf CILIP were a trade union as well as a professional body (as is the Royal College of Midwives, for example), then it would have more teeth. But how many librarians would look shocked at the idea of joining anything as proletarian as a trade union? Shock, horror. So, @Emily – it’s not their job to represent you. They aren’t a union and many members wouldn’t want them to be.
- Chrissy Says:
February 1st, 2008 atI joined CILIP way back when I was a student as it was cheap and one of the best ways to find a job. After a few years of not being a member I joined again for a year in 2006. Nothing had changed and I didn’t feel I got any benefit. As others have said, I find BIALL far more relevant to me.I guess the only real benefit is when you’re chartered, though I’d be interested to hear if anyone thinks this has value in the corporate sector.
- Hazel Says:
February 2nd, 2008 atThere’s nothing that would make me re-join. For someone who has got onto the information management ladder from an administrative position I do not need CILIP and it’s still far too library (public at that) oriented to provide much of interest to me. Most of what’s in Update has already been published elsewhere and I’m not looking for a job.
- lo-fi Says:
February 2nd, 2008 at@J Why would librarians be shocked at the prospect of joining a union?On another note – it’s interesting, but unsurprising that CILIP hasn’t joined this debate.
- J Says:
February 5th, 2008 at@lo-fi: In my opinion (speaking as a librarian), members of our profession are very willing to band together to DO something (eg, BIALL) but not very willing to do something to GET something for themselves. We lack a hard core of strident, aggressive members. We’re thoughtful, interested, committed but not especially aggressive. Can you see a nationwide librarians’ strike? Demonstrations? That’s not all unions do, but if you’re not willing to go that far, there’s not a lot else you can do, apart from wearing little flowers, like they do in Japan. Although that might be an idea…. And as for special librarians doing it… Well, no.
- NG Says:
February 5th, 2008 atI renewed my CILIP membership this year, but only because I like the publications from a number of the special-interest groups. I think it works for those that it works for, as BIALL works for others of us, but as an organization CILIP does absolutely nothing for me.I’m also a member of the American Library Association and it has a completely different organizational culture. In answer to J’s point, there’s absolutely no shortage of outspoken librarians there and, while ALA may not be a union as such, it’s not afraid to act like one.
- Jennie Says:
February 5th, 2008 atMy views on them at the moment wouldn’t be printable…they do nothing for me, and have cocked up my portfolio submission for Chartership in so many amazing ways (how DO you manage to lose one cheque, which was actually stapled to another cheque which you didn’t lose?!?!) that after submitting last September I’ve still no clue on its progress. Might have gone to the Board 2 weeks ago, might go in April…My company will recognise my Charter (when I get it officially), but only in terms of it being symbolic of me having completed one of my internal appraisal objectives and ticking a box, not necessarily as it demonstrating my continuing professional development. It wonâ€™t affect my job in any way. There are hints that itâ€™ll be recognised as an advanced professional qualification on a par with the fee earners, but nothing concrete.I was going to blog about CILIPs institutional ineptness and my view of them on my blog, but my boss is sorta high-up in the organisation, and desperately fighting to change things for the better, so when I mused about possibly blogging about my experiences, she asked me to be nice to her, and not…so I didn’t. She’s trying so hard to make it an organisation that’s useful for the members, I didn’t feel it was right to undermine her.
I’ve been a member since my student days in 2000, but to be honest, the only reason I’ve remained a member is because both my bosses were involved in CILIP, and…cos my firm pays my fees. I think I’d be hard pushed to justify spending the money otherwise. Although, of course, once Chartered you have to remain a member to keep that Chartership, so I’ll be tied in for eternity….
I struggle to find a use for it in my work. I skim Update, see yet more stories about public and academic libraries, and I’m finished with it in a very short time and chuck it. True, commercial and law libraries have confidentiality / corporate-bosses-frowning-upon-you-for-speaking-out-of-turn problems, so are less likely to turn up in there, but I just get so bored reading about new literacy initiatives in Devon!
And you have NO idea how guilty I feel about posting this publicly – it’s very close to heresy due to my bossâ€™s associations with CILIP!
- Tom Says:
February 5th, 2008 atI have never been a member of CILIP in ten years of (non-law) library work and have no intention of joining. The benefits are not enough and the organisation does not promote the profession, or even libraries generally, nearly enough.
– Their jobs are online and free (although the institute for information professionals still doesn’t have an RSS feed for vacancies).
– News is now available from a host of more up to date and free sources.
– CILIP has not done anything to address to issue of low pay for starters.
– I think the qualification system needs an overhaul- in short I don’t think it guarantees any particular skills that employers can realistic expect- and is clumsy in requiring either two years part-time study or to drop out of work for a year.
– CILIP is appalling at advocacy and speaking up for the profession. I noticed it was very silent, for instance, on the Kent and Bangor downgrading of professional posts, or the controversies in Hampshire. If libraries are discussed on the mainstream media, why is a CILIP representative there begging to be interviewed?
– There training is very general and does not help towards specialised skills (I speak as a cataloguer).
- Tom Says:
February 5th, 2008 atApologies for the errors:
– “THE issue of low pay”
– “realisticALLY expect”
– “why is a CILIP representative NOT there begging to be interviewed”
– “THEIR training is very general”
Writing without checking doesn’t really help my case!
- Alison Williams Says:
February 7th, 2008 atI lapsed many years ago when I was working in corporate libraries as it seemed pretty irrelevant. I’m now in an academic library and see Update sometimes. It has the occasional interesting article but I wouldn’t be prepared to re-join to get my own personal copy!I was interested to see a Cilip office set up in Second Life – briefly – and visited it a few times. It’s now gone, apparantly so they can concentrate on ‘core member services’. How typically forward looking…
- Matthew Mezey Says:
February 11th, 2008 atCILIP’s Update magazine – get in touch! As the News Editor of Update, I would urge all of you to send in news stories to the magazine (and feature articles too!).We are certainly very keen to include material of interest to all of our members – way beyond just public library items like “new literacy initiatives in Devon”, as Jennie put it.
There are indeed confidentiality issues that do regularly impede our coverage of the commercial sector, as Jennie mentioned. (It’s hard to write about a newsworthy development, when you can’t name the actual organisation itself.)
But I’m only an e-mail (or phone call) away, if there is something you think the wider LIS world would be interested to read about…
What are the hot topics of 2008 you’d like to see more of?
(News Editor, Library and Information Update)
020 7255 0584
- JamesM Says:
February 11th, 2008 atI’ve been a CILIP member for as long as I can remember. Nowadays I maintain it because I am chartered and certainly wouldn’t want to lose the 5 letters after my name. I think recently CILIP have tried to include more Corporate/Special library news/information in both Update and the Gazette but there is still a tendency for the magazine to focus on Public/Academic Libraries.
- debby raven Says:
February 12th, 2008 atHello, I can’t speak for CILIP as I’m Editor of Gazette (freelance) but I echo what Matthew says above. Working on CILIP publications for much longer that I care to admit you won’t believe how much we try to get more non-public/academic sector stuff into them. And I believe CILIP as a whole has been tryign hard to be more relevant in the same way, for years.
I produce the editorial in Gazette virtually alone so the journal has to rely a lot on people contributing ideas and copy. Please do get in touch about your professional concerns in the areas of training, cpd, careers, recruitment and the future of the profession.
Debby Raven 0141 334 6019 email@example.com
- Elspeth Hyams 020 7255 0583 Says:
February 12th, 2008 atAs editor of Update, it’s frustrating to read in ‘Tom’s’ post claims that CILIP ‘was very silent, for instance, on the Kent and Bangor downgrading of professional posts, or the controversies in Hampshire.’ It wasn’t – a team of people went into Bangor behind the scenes. And in Kent, the Head of Libraries wrote a long piece for Update on the rationale for restructuring the service. An interview with one of the restructured was pulled at that individual’s request, because publication would have jeopardised a financial settlement. Kent was an interesting case because it illustrated why, unlike the Royal College of Nursing, CILIP cannot act like a union: the disagreement was between managers and their staff, at both levels, members of CILIP. From our vantage point at the centre, we see that some functions are being performed by technology, some are disappearing as workflow changes. But new jobs are emerging. It would be simplistic to describe all restructuring as ‘deprofessionalisation’. In fact, the work associated with information and/or library management is moving up in status. We wish that our community would have debates about what it all means from inside CILIP. We need to find ways to capitalise on the opportunities. And to tell stories about what we achieve. Without that publicity, it is difficult for everyone to really make a case for enhanced remuneration. Without professional qualifications, how can we expect other professions to take us seriously? I can only join colleagues Debby Raven and Matthew Mezey in saying that, to help you, we need to tell your stories.Anne Welsh, then in the charitable sector, now once more a legal information professional, wrote in January last a piece year called: ‘I’m a cataloguer – hear me roar.’ We need more people to shout about what they have done, and why it has made a difference.
- Tom Says:
February 13th, 2008 atElspeth: I am still a bit dubious of the need for secrecy which CILIP always claims is necessary in these cases, although not being intimate with the cases concerned, I am willing to acknowledge the need for discretion. However, I cannot see why CILIP could not have even made a statement of the kind you just made, explaining the case, even it only appeared on its website. Why when I read about this in the Guardian were CILIP not mentioned emphasising the importance of professional librarianship- which is surely half the point of the organisation- while the AUT were mentioned as campaigning against job losses? Surely too, there were also AUT members on both sides of that dispute: many university managers are also AUT members.Update is an internal document. I doubt that many university or council managers outside the library read it, so I don’t think this is publicly advocating the profession at all. You talk of publicity, but preaching to the converted is hardly the issue. It is people and organisations outside the profession that need to be convinced. For example, when library closures are in the news, why is Ian Snowley not on TV? “And to tell stories about what we achieve. Without that publicity, it is difficult for everyone to really make a case for enhanced remuneration.” Yes, but talking to ourselves about it is not going to help. Nor is advertising low paid jobs.“We need more people to shout about what they have done, and why it has made a difference.” We need CILIP to roar on behalf of librarians too, and not just to other librarians.
- J Says:
February 13th, 2008 atI agree with Tom about the roaring. The profession needs someone to campaign on its behalf. If that means alienating managers, then so be it. The Royal Colleges of Nurses and of Midwives certainly seem quite able to function as colleges and to campaign for their members’ rights and for medical and for midwifery services in the NHS. In many cases, the nurses and midwives are probably arguing with managers who are themselves members of the colleges, but who have been ordered to cut budgets. Maybe CILIP should reconstitute itself and decide that it’s better to be on one side of the fence than sitting on it.But then, we’d be looking at a more heavily unionised profession and how many of us would be comfortable with that, as I said above? It’s not in the culture – certainly not in the commercial sector and I dare say that librarians working in the public sector are already unionised. Which comes back to the question – what is CILIP for? Which I don’t think any of the editorial staff commented on. Maybe their PR staff should get involved.
- Emale Says:
February 14th, 2008 atAnne Welsh has an interesting post entitled ‘Why Charter’ that has a connection with this discussion. http://annewelsh.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/why-charter/
- scott Says:
March 16th, 2008 atHave posted a new post bringing together some of the comments on this issue.http://www.informationoverlord.co.uk/?p=82
- Acomplia Says:
August 16th, 2008 atLovely post. Please add my email address to your list and email me the updates if possible. I always like to read your blog and comment on it.
- Criticism of CILIP « Aurlog Says:
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