CILIP Members’ Day and AGM

Registered on extremely short notice, I attended the CILIP Members’ Day and AGM in London yesterday. CILIP is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, a professional body representing – as it says on the tin – Library and Information professionals in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Members’ Day and AGM took place at CILIP London in Ridgmount Street and at SOAS, just around the corner.

For me, it was a pivotal event, and also the kickstart I needed to get involved with the profession.

In the morning, there were free workshops. From a choice of four topics, I chose to attend a workshop called “Where now for professionalism?”, which was okay. It got us talking about how we define professionalism and what could be done to improve people’s awareness of things like professionalism and CPD in a library and information environment. I find that very important, because I sometimes get the idea that people – mostly library users I come in contact with – have only a very limited understanding of what it is we as librarians actually do, and what kind of qualifications we have. One suggestion that was discussed was to make CPD mandatory in the world of LIS. I think this is a good idea – it is mandatory in many other profession, and making it mandatory in ours would increase employers’ responsibility to support staff in their CPD and also other people’s understanding of the profession as a whole, of what it is we do. I t would also maybe help us to be taken more seriously – we do a lot more than stamping books and saying “Shush!” after all!

I also had a look at CILIP’s Members’ Information Centre, where they keep copies of all Facet Publishing books, as well as access to online journals (wider than you get as a CILIP member anyway). There’s a team of three staff there to help and sort you out, and you can also phone and email them if you have a particular problem – a CILIP Enquiries Desk, if you so wish.

Over lunch, everyone got to network a bit. President Bruce Madge’s speech about what he did in his year of being president was very interesting for me, as he summarised what the key areas of action for CILIP were and are – and it’s always good to know what the current issues in your profession are, where there are new areas that want to be explored. For instance, there will be a scheme called Encompass, aiming at getting people from black and ethnic minority groups into the library and information profession. CILIP are also launching their Network of Expertise, but I am not so sure that people will use it in the way intended. It is supposed to be a Librarian facebook, but the profiles are too vague and I think that people are more likely to ask those that they work with, who might have the expertise to answer a particular question, than email or phone a person of whom they know nothing but a profile picture and some vague information.

In the evening, award-winning author Michele Roberts talked about her life in the 70s and beyond, living in a Hippie commune, working as a librarian by day and writing books at night. Her experiences were fun to listen to, and she was very friendly and willing to talk about it all. As I found out when I purchased her book Paper Houses last night, she has even been to Wivenhoe to talk to a local reading group!

All in all, the event was very inspiring and made me keen to get more involved with the work of CILIP. I have already been invited to Jennifer Rowley’s talk on leadership in London in November (Jennifer Smith of OneIS approached me), and am hoping to keep in touch with the people that I met through taking part in these events. Next in my calendar are the Graduate Open Day on October 27, and the Online Information trade fair on December 2-4. The Open Information event has free seminars on Web-related topics, some of which I am hoping to participate in. Since ordinary training courses tend to be quite expensive, this seems like a good opportunity to learn more about, for example, the relevance of Web 2.0 for libraries or different software and hardware solutions for more efficiency.

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