ACE CILIP Pushmi Pullyu


I keep getting this idea after filling in the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) rebrand survey that we’re in a Pushmi Pullyu situation with public libraries.

Arts Council England’s aim is to support the development of library strategy in England and they focus on them as cultural and arts spaces.

CILIP represents librarians and library workers and its been suggested in their proposals for a new name that library staff can be covered by the phrase “information professional”.

I do agree with the idea that libraries can be cultural spaces and that library workers do work with information, but that’s not all they focus on, as is illustrated by the fact that both organisations in this instance have ideas at odds to each other.

This post might be of interest too – The Purpose Of A Library?

But then again it might not.

Library Camp London #LibCampLdn


I attended Library Camp London yesterday. It was an informal unconference style gathering held at Senate House Library and over 100 people attended. The participants were from all sectors of the library world – academic, health, public, specialist, business – as well as library students and others interested in libraries. For more information about it take a look at the event wiki. The idea behind unconference events is that anyone can propose a session they’d like to run on the day and those attending chose the sessions they want to attend. Sessions pitched for the day included discussions around librarian personalities, Code Clubs in libraries, speed networking, design your own library qualification, radical libraries, the future of librarianship in a digital age, librarians without libraries, rhyme time. Many of the sessions involved discussion and information sharing. I ran one focused on finding out about online services that require no programming, are free and freely accessible via the internet, look good & can help my library service promote our resources in new ways beyond the library catalogue, whilst at the same time drawing library users back to our services. I found it a useful to session to run and I came away with a few ideas for possible future project.

I also attended sessions focusing on Code clubs; Maintaining the organisational vision; Librarian personality; and Speed networking. Out of these the ones I attended the Vision & Librarian Personality sessions were the ones that got me thinking the most. Here are some of the ideas that cropped up during those sessions.

Organisational vision

  • Organisational vision needs to be in focus all the time to ensure that everybody is working towards that vision. The message needs to be visible at all times.
  • Contact with your end user is important in making sure that the vision meets their needs as well as the  organisations needs.
  • Appraisal goals are useful ways of ensuring that you keep focused on the vision of the organisation.
  • You not only have to focus on the organisations vision, but also those areas that influence your library service.
  • An organisations vision may be at odds with the overarching ethos/vision of libraries, with the library vision coming off second best.

Librarian personality

  • It was interesting that many of the people in the session considered themselves to be extroverts, but common stereo-types paint library staff as introverted.
  • Does the route people took to get into the library profession tie in with their personality traits? eg if you come at librarianship from a love of data and information is this reflected in your personality?
  • Do different types of library work suit different personalities types?
  • Why are librarians so worried about what others think of them?
  • Does the removal of the word librarian from job title hide the true value of how much librarians contribute to society?
  • I thought of how some humourous library staff videos seem like an attempt to persuade others that library staff aren’t like the stereo-type and I thought at how I’m embarrassed by some of these videos. At the same time thought of the Betty Glover Librarian Workout video, which made me smile.

I do regret missing a few of the other sessions, including “I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords”; Rhyme Time; Radical Libraries; Library Assistants role; Design your own library qualification; “What if the world were ruled by librarians?” I’m hoping that the sessions will be written up and available on the wiki, so I can catch up with them.

Finally, I wanted to say that it was a really enjoyable and worthwhile event and I got to chat to loads of people. Even though I was involved in organising it, the bulk of the organisation was undertaken by Senate House Library staff, particularly Andrew Preater and David Clover – so huge thanks to them for making it such a great event.

More details of the day can be found on this wiki page.

#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 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 #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.