Speaking up for Libraries CILIP event (14/09/2011)


Yesterday I attended an event at CILIP, which focussed on advocacy work in libraries.

There were 2 speakers – Emma Harrison (Assistant Librarian, University of Mid Glamorgan) and Mark Taylor (CILIP Director of External Relations).

Emma Harrison

Emma’s focus was on day-to-day advocacy and how it had helped her ensure the value of her job was recognised by her organisation.

During her time at UMG her department was subject to HERA (Higher Education Role Analysis) job evaluation scheme. From this, grades were assigned to roles based on a National Framework Agreement. The roles written up in the HERA document didn’t match the work that Emma and her colleagues actually did – excluding specialist librarian skills and qualifications from the requirements. After re-writing the HERA document the value of Emma and her colleagues jobs were recognised.

As part of her advocacy  in this situation Emma persuaded colleagues who may have otherwise been reluctant that it was worth challenging the HERA decision, and she also made use of the CILIP campaigning toolkit to advocate the value of her role to managers and Human Resources.

Since this happened Emma has been promoted, which highlights that even though she was worried about taking this action, it paid off.

During the discussion following her presentation it was highlighted that HERA can work for advocacy too if you are able to write your own forms/role/job description, as you have the power to tell others what you do.

Mark Taylor

Mark talked about what he thought advocacy was – influencing other people, winning support, bringing about change. eg. Responding to library reports, support other campaigns, questioning politicians, advocating your own value. He acknowledged that it’s often mixed up with activism and marketing. He felt that the most effective advocacy is that which clearly identifies the target – messages should be tailored to the issues of decision makers, to show how you can help them. You need to set out your agenda clearly and make the message concise. Contact with the media is important, so comment on the media and get them to come to you as first port of call. If you’re involved in a promotional campaign, reporting back on the success/effectiveness of the campaign after it’s completed is important.

Mark saw CILIP’s advocacy role as advocating for the profession, CILIP & developing advocacy policy; providing thought leadership; enabling networking & communications.

He discussed CILIP’s vision & mission, based on the CILIP Future consultation of membership in 2010. Since this consultation CILIP have created new posts to focus on advocacy. CILIP also wants to encourage CILIP members to become involved in advocacy.

Tree of Knowledge by PWBaker

Tree of Knowledge (c) PWBaker / Flickr

Highlights of CILIP’s advocacy in the past year included:

  • 200+ press mentions
  • Briefings for Lords & MPs
  • Lobbying politicians – hoping to launch a Cross Party Library Group in November
  • Supported Save Our Libraries day & are involved in organising 2012 event
  • Annie Mauger spoke at the Women’s Institute AGM
  • Awarded Alan Gibbons Honorary Fellowship (1st time advocated outside profession in this way)
  • Responded to various Government reports
  • Carnegie & Greenaway awards – want to develop it as advocacy tool (get it more into media that it’s librarians choosing books)
  • Libraries change lives award
  • Using social media more effectively

CILIP’s plans for the future include:

  • Continued lobbying/engagement with parliamentarians.
  • Campaigns – “Shout for school libraries“ (Oct 2011) / National libraries day (2012)
  • CILIP staff to go back to the floor – including a wide variety of environments
  • Future areas of policy work – information literacy; digital inclusion; Want to deliver 2 high profile campaigns a year

Question time

Following this, the audience had their chance to raise questions and comment on what they had heard. This included:

  • What are CILIP doing to stop councils from cutting services and handing over to volunteers?
  • I mentioned Twitter advocacy/activism conversations and that the difference between the 2 is misunderstood by some people.
  • National libraries day is seen as more positive than Save our libraries day. It was felt that this positive angle would encourage more people to advocate in this way.
  • We need to build a network of advocates from our users in all sectors – decision makers are more likely to listen to the users!
  • Politicians want to see what we are doing to help them to achieve their goals. How can we demonstrate value in a way (in all sectors) that means something to politicians?
  • We could partner with other related organisations eg National Literacy Trust & make use of their research.
  • Comments were made about the impact local libraries closures have on school libraries & literacy.
  • It was felt that CILIP needs to defend professional staff & qualifications. CILIP will be looking at continuing professional development and performing a qualifications review.
  • It was seen that organisations/library advocates in some ways (library campaigners and friends groups) are less restrained than CILIP in voicing their opinions.

It was an interesting event and helped highlight the wide range of advocacy that is necessary and can be achieved by the profession, whether you are an individual like Emma, or a larger organisation, such as CILIP.


4 thoughts on “Speaking up for Libraries CILIP event (14/09/2011)

    • Hello Charlotte. They were, but it was felt that it was sometimes difficult to demonstrate value to those who hold the money, based on the fact that it needed to align closely with their goals… If that makes sense.

  1. thanks for sharing this Gary. Out of interest how was
    “What are CILIP doing to stop councils from cutting services and handing over to volunteers?” answered?

    Also, can you expand on this
    “Comments were made about the impact local libraries closures have on school libraries & literacy” ? A potential blog post idea is forming in my head 😉


    • Hi Johanna. Re. Volunteers and local councils. It seems that Cilip are focussing on discussing issues with MPs, rather than councillers to address the situation.

      Re. School libraries. The discussion was around the fact that because public libraries are being closed, school libraries now have more value and need to support children’s literacy. It was also noted that school libraries and public libraries both have their value in children’s literacy.

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