I must say I’m growing quite disappointed when it comes to CILIP. I did comment on Bob McKee’s recent post on the CILIP membership fee increase, so I’m not going to reiterate what I said here. I have received Bob’s promised email, and will explain my reasons for voting against the increase by proxy. It’s nice to be given that chance, but it would have been even better to properly engage the membership in the discussion about fee increases before the fact.

Now, CILIP is launching something called “The Big Conversation” in 2010, to engange with, as they put it on the website, “everyone with an interest in the future of our profession and our professional institute.”

Sounds great, right? But once you scroll down, confusion ensues. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t get it, but it does confuse me. They want to establish a “Project Board” consisting of “CILIP Members working in a range of settings, spanning a spectrum of experience and job level, and spanning the continuum of expertise from librarianship to information science; other CILIP stakeholders who might add value to the work of the Project Board.”

Exactly how does a spectrum of experience and job level match with the essentail criteria for a candidate for this Project Board then? As outlined, these include:

  • A summary of relevant past projects and experience, on not more than one A4 page. This should illustrate your previous project board experience.
  • Values, scope and timescales of past projects. This should demonstrate your proven, successful capability in project management.
  • A summary CV including CILIP activism. This should illustrate the breadth of your experience and your commitment to the professional body.

I am a CILIP activist, on paper. I am a member of the committee of the East of England division of the Career Development Group, which was resurrected last September. Since then, I have been on three committee meetings, all of which took place in Cambridge, which meant two hours travel there and back (four hours round trip), paid out of my own pocket.

In my workplace, out of a staff of around 60, there are five CILIP members, including me. None of the paraprofessional staff are members except for me, and the four remaining ones are the head of the library and three out of ten senior staff members. One of these has already told me that she will not be able to renew her membership next year because she cannot afford it. And honestly, I don’t know how I’m meant to afford it once I graduate. But that is another story. More on the CDG committee.

There are no library schools in the area, but the resurrection of the committee took the form of a New Professionals day, and our next event is to do with Disability Awareness. We will not be able to host as many events, or attract as many people, as CILIP London and South East, for example. And sure, I could join that one, as it would be easier and probably more satisfying for me in many ways. However, I feel that there is enough emphasis on London already and that people in other regions deserve activist days and training on their doorstep as well, and I would like to try and do my bit to achieve that.

I would like to play a bigger part in activism, but as for many people, lack of financial and other support from my employer and being reliant on public transport is enough to cut me off substantially.

So for me, and for many others in similar positions (LIS students, Graduate Trainees, school librarians, new professionals, recent LIS graduates), this “Big Conversation” project board offer is just another “you need to have been one to be one” that we have to pass up, to be snatched up by the ubiquitous white men in their fifties. Which, frankly, is a shame for any profession, but particularly so for one that is as female-dominated as librarianship.


One thought on “Disappointment

  1. “confusion ensues. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t get it, but it does confuse me”

    Not the only one – it seemed to me on getting CILIP’s email that it is a case of the ‘job’ description and person description not matching.

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