I’ve been reading the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Presidential Address Biddy Fisher gave at the CILIP members day last week. The key quotes for me were:
“The members of the profession, whether in practice or in employment, must be independent in thought and outlook. They must be willing to speak their minds without fear or favour.”
I feel without this independent and free thinking we can’t really engage in debate about our profession or develop information and library services in new and innovative ways. If we are held back by what we think we should say, or what we are told to say we run the risk of getting told how we should run services, rather than leading the development of these services.
“In its specific field of learning a profession must give leadership to the public it serves.”
“…we still struggle with the question of how are we able to truly recognise and then relay to society our worth to our communities?”
We are the experts in our profession. We should be guiding our users – showing them what we have to offer. We should be thinking about the opportunities that are out there, how we make use of them to help our service users, and how we sell what we do to users and non-users. We shouldn’t wait to be prompted and guided by those outside the profession about the services we provide and how we provide them.
“One of the issues that I have grappled with this year has been to determine what we, as CILIP, are advocating. I know I am not alone in this. Part of the ‘problem’ is the confusion about what exactly we are advocating for. Is it:
Libraries – as buildings and as the icons that exemplify our cultural and economic contribution to society?
Library and Information Services – as the content within those buildings, or increasingly virtually beyond them, and by which users and individuals are able to access knowledge and information?
Librarians and Information Professionals – as the agents that develop and maintain the tools, the processes and systems that permit consistent and non judgemental access?
Or possibly the unique body of knowledge that appends our professional practice and that we acquire in our education, develop in our practice and discussions with peers and which grows with our increasing expertise, confidence and the taking of opportunities?”
In my mind it’s all of these things that CILIP and its members should be advocating – anything that promotes the idea of what an information professional or librarian does and all that entails. It’s all so intertwined that in some cases it is difficult to separate the different strands.
I thought Biddy’s speech was powerful and it made me feel positive about the role that CILIP will be playing for our profession in the future. We as professionals and individuals though, need to take note of these ideas and make sure we put them into practice. Otherwise we will just remain as we are now – undervalued and disenfranchised!