Phil Bradley on CILIP in 2020

Phil Bradley has written a long “a stream of thought” post on how he would like to see CILIP looking in ten years’ time. I’m not sure how much I agree with a lot of it, but it is interesting and very positive nonetheless. What struck me (perhaps because I do agree with them) are the following couple of points:

I want information professionals to be able to look at what CILIP does and say to their employers – this is what my professional organization is doing – why can’t I do it as well?

I don’t think it is CILIP’s job to  just lead on technology (later on he gives an example of CILIP having something like an iPad that members could have a chance to play with)  or web design as this is getting beyond the remit of librarianship. Although those areas are vital I think one of CILIP’s weaknesses in fact is that it is in many respects a vanilla professional institute which, in moving away from some core of specific skills, is leaving us with nothing special to sell. For instance, trying to take ownership of the word Information rather than the word Library is dangerous as there are others, particularly computer scientists, who already own much of that ground, and have broken much of it too. Perhaps this is what Phil Bradley is driving at when he says,

I want librarians, backed by the professional body, to be the ones telling the technical staff what they should be doing, not the other way around.

However, I think that he talking about the role of librarians within an organisation rather than the acquirement of real technical skills that could increase our ability to adapt and increase our services.

Anyway, I do think it is important that CILIP leads the way as an example to its own community as well as a something to be pointed out to others as Phil Bradley suggests, something it certainly hasn’t done in the past.

I heartily agree with the following sentiment:

I want to see CILIP mentioned in the press and the media every single time there’s reference to a library, for good or ill. CILIP needs to be the organisation that’s pulled onto programmes to talk on behalf of the profession.

I think this is a must. Other issue-specific organisations are on the telly or pop up in newspapers quite often. I think if CILIP proactively offered its services and made a hue and cry on an issue, programmes like BBC Breakfast would probably listen. Incidentally, this is one area where I think changing the name from Library Association to CILIP was catastrophic: lots of people outside the profession knew the Library Association and its name is fairly self-explanatory; I don’t think the same could be said of CILIP, and I expect many people would still be mystified when the acronym is expanded.

In one other point I don’t think Phil Bradley goes far enough:

I want CILIP to continue to run courses, and I want those courses to be held, not just in London, but at your desk, with webinars, conference calling/training and so on. Why should it be necessary for me to come to London in order to sit in and watch a council meeting? Why can’t I do it at my desk?

I want those courses to be overhauled and more specific. In particular the monlithic MA needs to be ditched, a series of specific short courses needs to be introduced, and the CILIP courses on offer need to go beyond “An introduction to…”.

2 thoughts on “Phil Bradley on CILIP in 2020

  1. But what about those of us who aren’t librarians, who CILIP supposedly represents, who feel we’re sidelined? This is a massive problem, and why there is a lot of ill-feeling towards CILIP in certain areas – you say that “trying to take ownership of the word Information rather than the word Library is dangerous”, but CILIP is also there to represent information professionals, so it’s far more dangerous (and rather stupid, in my opinion) of them not to.

    I think CILIP often lips into the habit of forgetting it is a merger of two organisations – one representing librarians and the other representing information scientists.

    I think Phil is spot on with what he says, as CILIP has got to be more representative of the rest of its membership and be more relevant in a world where librarians’ roles are changing out of recognition.

    I am a trained librarian (with an accredited degree and everything) but I now work for a private company managing and advising on social networking usage. A professional body Phil describes would have massive validity to me, whereas CILIP at the moment is mainly a line that looks good when we put my CV in bids.

  2. Good points about championing library issues in the media, but a word of caution – there are a lot of us in CILIP who could not be a member of a “Library Association”.

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