#FutureSkills and The Body Of Professional Knowledge for Librarians


Following on from the “Defining Our Professional Future” report, CILIP have started working on a number of large projects. One of them is focused on the skills we use in the information and library profession, and part of this involves updating the Body of Professional Knowledge and Skills (BPKS). Put simply, it will identify all skills, competencies and knowledge relevant to the profession and present them in a way that can be measured.

CILIP have been asking members and non-members to feedback on the draft version of the document. So, I did. I thought it was worth making the effort to help ensure that the BPKS was as relevant as possible to the profession, and also ensure that it remained relevant in the future. I’m not an expert in every aspect of information/library based work, so I don’t feel I could respond in detail to every aspect of the questionnaire used for feeding back into the consultation, but I responded to what I could. Even those areas I was hazy about made me think about how they related to my role, roles I’ve had in the past, or even how they relate to colleagues roles. It was useful to go through the draft document, even just to remind myself of the range of skills and knowledge needed in the profession, aspects of which I’d forgotten about, or maybe wasn’t even aware of. Even though it’s still in draft format, it was also good to be able to identify areas that I may want to or need to improve my skills in the future.

Once it’s been updated I can see it being personally useful for:

  • Identifying my existing skills & knowledge – useful for clarifying to others what I do.
  • Identifying skills & knowledge gaps I would want to develop.
  • Show possible paths to career progression.
  • Use to show others what librarians do – employers, Government Ministers, those who hold the purse strings.

CILIP mention that they intend to link in their resources (eg resources on the CILIP website; specific CILIP special interest groups; Facet publications) with skills and knowledge listed in the body of professional knowledge . I think this is a really good idea, but as well as this, I wonder if there’s scope to develop this aspect further, such as:

  • Make an online version of the BPKS document editable, so that members can add other non-CILIP resources they think are relevant.
  • Job shadowing or events with individuals who possess skills/knowledge in an area you want to develop.
  • Small scale mentoring programmes, again focusing on specific skills sets, rather than the full chartership scheme.

A few skills/knowledge areas I thought needed to be specifically emphasised in the BPKS were:

  • Knowledge and understanding of existing legislation and central Government initiatives.
  • Advocacy skills.
  • Leadership – provide direction and lead by example.
I also wonder how we can use the BPKS to develop our roles so that we not only adapt to changes happening around us in society, but also play a part in guiding or influencing society?

As well as providing feedback on the BPKS, yesterday I also attended a talk by Bethan Ruddock about the Future Skills project hosted by CILIP London & South East Career Development Group. She ran through the various stages of the project, how it was developing and how it would impact upon other areas beyond the BPKS. The project will also include an examination of CILIP accreditation & seal of recognition, and the intention is for it to tie in closely with continuing professional development.

Bethan’s talk generated discussions around the need to emphasise specialist information skills over generic skills in the BPKS; how the terminology used to describe the skills/knowledge might not be relevant to some people in the profession and how this can be overcome; concerns over de-professionalisation of information/library services; who was involved in the Future Skills discussion?; the need to reach and involve people in the discussion who are not normally involved with CILIP, as it is just as much their profession too.

So, if you haven’t got involved yet, there are still a few days left to feedback on the Body of Professional Knowledge (it runs until midnight on Sunday 29th April), and if anyone on Twitter is interested in getting involved in the Future Skills discussion, there will be a CILIP #chartership #FutureSkills chat on 26 April from 6.30pm-8pm.

CILIP Elections 2012 #cilip2012

I’m currently trying to decide who to vote for in the CILIP 2012 Council Elections, but to be honest I’m dithering. I’m not even sure I can vote for 4 out of the 6 standing for the trustee/councillor roles. Most of them aren’t saying what I want to hear them say most of the time. I’m not saying I can’t vote for any of them, but I’m not sure my ballot paper is going to have 4 crosses on it… which is worrying for me.
I’ve read their manifestos; read their responses to questions posted on the CILIP e-hustings; asked them a few questions via the e-hustings and the live hustings myself – although I couldn’t follow the live hustings video stream, I did follow the Twitter stream and picked up on various points via follow up blog posts.
But still I’m wavering about my decision! I get to the point where I think “They’ll do for me,” and then I re-read something else they’ve said and I realise I disagree with them on it. I should say I can agree with most candidates on at least one of their major points, but this isn’t enough to make me want to vote for them.
I understand that once they’re elected they will have to work within the restrictions of CILIP Council and won’t be able to stage a coup and over-run CILIP with ideas that have me a bit worried, so maybe I should have faith in others on CILIP Council to stop anything unwanted from happening.
I was going to say CILIP is at a cross-roads regarding its future, but following on from the “Defining Our Professional Future” report, it seems as if it has made its decision about the direction it is going in, has indicated, and has pulled away… Now it needs a bit of gas to race from 0 to 60mph to get where it’s going as quickly as possible. So, in my mind, that’s why it’s important for me to choose very carefully who’s on the CILIP bus helping to drive it, service it and willing to push it up a few steep hills if it needs a bit of extra Oomph!
But time is running out for me to choose… so, I need to go and dither a little bit more.
All aboard CILIP's funky bus

All aboard CILIP's funky bus (c) Mattes

CILIP 2011 AGM #cilipagm11


I attended the CILIP 2011 AGM on Thursday. For a summary of the meeting see my tweets below. The full archive for all of the tweets posted by everyone during the AGM can also be found here.


  • Annie Mauger presenting honorary fellowship to John Lake.
  • RT @Minimorticia: If you are not here with us you can follow the AGM via the live link http://t.co/fBfJ4JMX #CILIPAGM11
  • AGM 2010 meeting minutes agreed.
  • Issues were raised from last years minutes – questions about subscription charges for retired & overseas members.
  • Auditors appointed – Kingston Smith LLP.
  • Trustees report and annual accounts being presented by Judy Broady-Preston (Honorary Treasurer).
  • Accounts in context: Global financial crisis; Political changes; Changes facing CILIP & LIS sector.
  • Impact in CILIP: Dramatic drop in income £825,000; Had to streamline CILIP (5 redundancies)
  • Remodelled itself based on Defining our Professional Future Report.
  • Expenditure reduced by £0.8mill; Income reduced by £0.9mill from reserves of £767k
  • 2011 actions: Restructure; Increased advocacy emphasis; Reduced costs; New business model
  • CILIP What next?: Sustained CILIP recruitment & retain members; 5 year financial strategy.
  • Finances this year “looking better than last year”.
  • Question from the floor. What are net figures of funds held by branches and groups? Answer: CILIP will get figures & put on site.
  • Discussion around CILIP finances raised by questions from the floor.
  • Membership recruitment and retention is very important in CILIP’s strategy.
  • Presentation by Annie Mauger on impact “Defining our Professional Future” report has had on CILIP #cilipfuture
  • Defining our professional future has guided CILIP over the past year.
  • Want to provide sound leadership; advocacy; long term financial sustainability
  • Advocacy – Engaged with media; government; delivered new advocacy resources; awards
  • Devpt. activities – more online resources; new models of branches & groups; Toolshed support for groups/branches
  • Back to the floor days for CILIP staff.
  • Subscription strategies and proposals. CILIP need to do more with less.
  • Keep CILIP membership accessible. Fund activities members want from their prof. body. Allow ideas in DOPF to take root & grow.
  • Subscription proposals: Reductions at lower levels & no more than increase of £5 for any individual at higher level.
  • Amendment suggested to allow Overseas Members access to reduced UK subs. to acknowledge where overseas income may be very low.
  • RT @Speranda: wants to know how institution membership of #cilip might mesh with individual chartered membership #cilipagm11
  • RT @llordllama: Those outside London get less than a 1/3 of the member benefits too – can we have a decrease? #cilipagm11
  • Me too MT @bethanar Wish they had a band above £17.5k – I’d gladly pay more in amore band, to allow lower to pay less #cilipagm11
  • Vote on amendment to subscriptions taking place. Amendment not passed. (I sat on the fence!)
  • Items raised: text of CILIP Disciplinary Regulations. Changes suggested around bias; expelling members.
  • RT @RMGCat: Hoping for online voting in addition to streaming & proxy votes next year #cilipagm11. Really wanted to vote but on the day …
  • RT @CILIPinfo: #CILIPAGM11 Agenda item submitted for consideration by the AGM. No motions have been submitted
I’ve only been a member of CILIP for just over a year and it’s the second time I’ve attended the AGM. I went last year too. At last years AGM CILIP were deciding how they would act on the members views expressed in the “Defining Our Professional Future” report that had been published a few months earlier – concerns about CILIP’s finances, the future of the profession and action CILIP were taking to support the profession, and the desire for CILIP to move into the 21st century with regard to technology.
With this in mind, it was interesting to attend the AGM again, with its focus on the steps CILIP had taken in response to the report and their strategy/plans for the future. Advocacy was high on the agenda – listing a number of advocacy successes CILIP had achieved over the past year and their future plans. CILIP finances still need to be improved, but they are currently better than they were. Following a recent restructure, the organisation is now leaner and is able to focus on those areas members felt were important. It was recognised that the need to recruit/retain members was important and hopefully the development of CILIP’s leadership role will help encourage membership. With regard to technology it was good to see CILIP were live streaming the AGM, and they had plans in place to develop their online activities.
Obviously CILIP still have some way to go to achieve what they want and what the members want the organisation to achieve, but it appears they are heading in the right direction. It’s only been a year since the report, and change can’t always happen quickly in an organisation like CILIP, with so many areas to focus on. There’s always the added difficulty of trying to be as effective as possible when finances are also an issue. I’ll admit that, as a  member of the organisation, I do find this frustrating, but realise that sometimes things can’t move on as quickly as I’d like them to, no matter how hard I mentally will things to happen. Hopefully this time next year my frustrations will be gone.

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.

CILIP Presidential Address 2010


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!

Defining Our Professional Future CILIP Report


The CILIP “Defining our professional future” (pdf link) report was published in July 2010 and, as I took the time to fill it out, I was interested to see what it said.

It was interesting to see which aspects of technology had the most impact on current roles in the library and information world (pg.33). Digitised resources and E-books/journals came out top, followed by social media, virtual working, mobile working and open source software.

It was even more interesting to see how this was broken down in the different sectors.

  • Academic – made most use of digital resources, e-books/journals, social media sites, open source and cloud computing
  • National sector – digital resources
  • Health – E-books/journals
  • Industrial – virtual working, mobile working, semantic web
  • Public/local authority – mobile working

I just wonder what this all implies? Does the Academic sector have more scope to experiment with technology? Does the industrial sector use of virtual and mobile technology indicate their general out-and-about working lifestyle. Is the National library sector using digital resources as part of their digital preservation role? Is the Health Sector high use of e-books/e-journals an indication of their early take-up of these resources (I remember using full text CD-Rom’s of medical journals in the mid 1990s). It’s interesting that the Public/local authority sector also has a greater use of mobile technology – maybe this is down to use of Blackberry’s etc to access emails when out of the office? 

When it came to the question about where respondents thought technology was heading in the future (pg.36), there was an increase in how many people thought technology would impact on them. There was also a slight shift in the rankings – Web3.0/semantic being the highest mover up the list. The differences in opinion in how technology would affect different sectors seemed to reflect what I’ve heard people from these sectors currently talking about – how they plan to deliver services in the near future.

The report also asked what skills the respondents used in their current roles (pg 37-38). From my point of view, the interesting thing here was the difference between the number of respondents who saw themselves as organisers/disseminators of information (eg information evaluation and management) and those who saw themselves as creators of information (eg classifiers, cataloguers, indexes, database creators and web publishers). I know this probably isn’t the right way of phrasing it, but hopefully you’ll see what I mean. The organisers / disseminators were higher up the rankings.

With regard to the future (pg.41-42), information evaluation and management were holding steady. However, the reduction in indexing, cataloguing and classification skills in the future seems to reflect the fact that we are recognising that most of the data we need is out there already for us to use, we can pool it together and we don’t need to create as much of it from scratch as we have done in the past. On the other hand as more information moves online it looks as if database design and web publishing skills will still be needed to present this information in the way that is most useful to our users.

It was also great to see communication skills were at the top of the current skills list, but at the same time a bit odd to see teaching was only relevant to 50% of the respondents. Shouldn’t this figure be higher? Aren’t we also about teaching users to find information too, no matter what role we’re in?

I just wonder how right we’ll be about all of this? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Cross-Sector Collaboration


I recently mentioned in a blog post that I thought it would be useful for the library profession as a whole if there was greater cross-sector working. In a time where money is tight and staff numbers are being reduced, it makes sense to pool and share information.

It seems as if many members of the library profession see their area of interest/work as unique to their organisation – public libraries deal more with fiction, a wide range and level of readers (0 to 100+) and informal learning; academic libraries concentrate on research, development and formal learning; specialist libraries deal with group of users based on a specific profession/subject area. I also think that this attitude of ‘We are unique!’ can come across in library services in the same sector providing the same services to a different local area.

The focus appears to concentrate on the differences in services we provide and not the similarities, which is strange, as the similarities outweigh the differences. Maybe some information professionals just want to actively keep their services unique… it helps to justify their role??

I also feel as if some people will immediately dismiss the ideas/practices of library services in another sector as irrelevant, because they are again emphasising the differences in the services and not the similarities.

Library services appear to be constantly re-inventing the wheel on a project where someone else has already thought through the same project/problems and has solutions that may be relevant.

We should be taking advantage of these ideas/solutions from outside our own sectors and use them to develop our own library services. We need to ask if there are similarities between what we are doing and what other library services (public, academic or specialist) are providing, no matter how vague the connection may appear. If we don’t, I feel we will be missing out on some great opportunities to develop the library profession as a whole… and if we don’t develop we will get left behind.