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ISKO-UK linked data day

On 14 September I went to the ISKO-UK one day conference on Linked Data: the Future of Knowledge Organisation on the Web.  For me, this followed on from a previous Talis session on Linked Data and Libraries I attended at the British Library in June, which I found really very interesting and informative.

The ISKO conference was a lot broader in scope- it was noticed by several speakers discussing the BBC’s use of linked data that there were 22 attendees from the BBC- and  included talks about local and national government, business, libraries, as well as the Ordnance Survey. The following is a brief and personal overview, pausing in more detail over aspects that interested me more. It assumes a passing acquaintance with linked data and basic RDF.

Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton, a colleague of Tim Berners-Lee at Southampton as well as in advising the British Government developing the site, opened with a talk about Government Linked Data: A Tipping Point for the Semantic Web. There were two interesting points from this (there were many, but you know what I mean). First was the speedy and incredible effects of openly releasing government data. Professor Shadbolt used the analogy of the mapping by John Snow of the 1854 cholera epidemic which identified a pump as the source and led to the realisation that water carried cholera. He mentioned the release of government bike accident data that was little used by the government but which was taken up and used by coders within days to produce maps of accident hotspots in London and guides to avoiding them.
The second point was the notion of the “tipping point” for the semantic web and linked data referred to in the talk’s title. Several speakers and audience members referred to the similar idea of the “killer implementation”, a killer app for the semantic web that would push it into the mainstream. The sheer quantity of data and use it is quickly put to, often beyond the imagination of those who created and initially stored it, was quite compelling. Richard Wallis made a similar point when discussing the relative position of the semantic web compared to the old-fashioned web in the 1990s. He noted that it is now becoming popular to the extent that is nearly impossible to realistically list semantic web sites and predicts that it will explode in the next year or so. Common to both Nigel Shadbolt’s and Richard Wallis’s talks was a feeling almost of evangelism: Richard Wallis explicitly refers to himself as a technology evangelist; Nigel Shadbolt referred to open government data as “a gift”. Despite being relatively long in the tooth, RDF, linked data, and all that have not yet taken off and both seemed keen to push it: when people see the benefits, it won’t fail to take off. There were interesting dissenting voices to this. Martin Hepp, who had spent over eight years coming up with the commercial GoodRelations ontology, was strongly of the opinion that it is not enough to merely convince people of the social or governmental benefits, but rather the linked data community should demonstrate that it can directly help commerce and make money. The fact that GoodRelations apparently accounts for 16% of all RDF triples in existence and is being used by corporations such as BestBuy and O’Reilly (IT publishers) seems to point to a different potential tipping point. Interestingly, Andreas Blumauer in a later talk said that SKOS (an RDF schema to be discussed in the next paragraph) could introduce Web 2.0 mechanisms to the ‘web of data'”. Perhaps, then, SKOS is the killer app for linked data (rather than government data or commercial data as suggested elsewhere), although Andreas Blumauer also agreed with Martin Hepp in saying that “If enterprises are not involved, there is no future for linked data”. In my own ignorant judgement, I would suggest government data is probably a more likely tipping point for linked data, closely followed by Martin Hepp’s commercial data. It is government data that is making people aware of linked data, and especially open data, in the first place. This is more likely to recruit and enthuse. I think the commercial data will be the one that provides the jobs based on the foregoing: it may change the web more profoundly but in ways fewer people will even notice. I suppose it all depends on how you define tipping points or killer apps, which I don’t intend to think about for much longer.

The second talk, and the start of a common theme, was about SKOS and linked data, by Antoine Isaac. This was probably the most relevant talk for librarians and was for me a simple introduction to SKOS, which seems to be an increasingly common acronym. SKOS stands for Simple Knowledge Organisation System and is designed for representing (simply) things like thesauruses* and classification schemes, based around concepts. These concepts have defined properties such as preferred name (“skos:prefLabel”), non-preferred term (“skos:altLabel”), narrower term (“skos:narrower”), broader term (“skos:broader”), and related term (“skos:related”).  The example I’ve been aware of for some time is the representation of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in SKOS, where all the SKOS ideas I’ve just mentioned will be recognisable to a lot of librarians. In the LCSH red books, for example, preferred terms are in bold, non-preferred terms not in bold preceded by UF, and the relationships between concepts is represented by the abbreviations NT, BT, and RT. In SKOS, concepts and labels are more clearly distinct. An example of SKOS using abbreviated linked data might be (stolen and adapted from the W3C SKOS primer):

ex:animals rdf:type skos:Concept;
skos:prefLabel “animals”;
skos:altLabel “creatures”;
skos:narrower ex:mammals.

This means that ex:animals is a SKOS concept; that the preferred term for ex:animals is “animals”; a non-preferred term is “creatures”; and, that a narrower concept is ex:mammals. In a mock LCSH setting this might look something like this:

UF Creatures
NT Mammals

In the LCSH example, however, the distinction between concepts and terms is lost. One aspect of SKOS that Antoine Isaac spent some time on is the idea of equivalent concepts, especially across languages. In RDF you can bind terms to languages using an @ sign, something like this:

ex:animals rdf:type skos:Concept;
skos:prefLabel “animals”@en;
skos:prefLabel “animaux”@fr.

However, you can also link concepts more directly using skos:exactMatch, skos:closeMatch, skos:broadMatch, skos:narrowMatch, and relatedMatch to link thesauruses and schemes together. These are admittedly a bit nebulous. He mentioned work that had been done on linking LCSH to the French Rameau and from there to the German subject thesaurus SWD. For example:

Go to which is the LCSH linked data page for “Animals”. (You can view the raw SKOS RDF using the links at the top right, although sadly not in n3 or turtle format which I have used above). At the bottom of the page there are links to “similar concepts” in other vocabularies, in this case Rameau.
Go the the first one,, and you see the Rameau linked data page for “Animaux”.

In the LCSH RDF you can pick out the following RDF/XML triples:

<rdf:Description rdf:about=””>
<rdf:type rdf:resource=””/>
<skos:altLabel xml:lang=”en”>Beasts</skos:altLabel>
<skos:narrower rdf:resource=””/>
<skos:closeMatch rdf:resource=”″/>

which is basically saying the same as (clipping the URIs for the sake of clarity):

lcsh:sh85005249#concept rdf:type skos:Concept;
skos:prefLabel “Animals”@en;
skos:altLabel “Beasts”@en;
skos:narrower lcsh:sh95005559#concept;
skos:closeMatch rameau:cb119328694.

Not too far from the first example I gave, with the addition of  a mapping to a totally different scheme. Or in mock red book format again but with unrepresentable information missing:

UF Beasts
NT Food animals

Oh that some mapping like this were available to link LCSH and MeSH…!

Several other talks touched on SKOS, such is its impact on knowledge management. Andreas Blumauer talked about it in demonstrating a service provided by punkt. netServices, called PoolParty.** I don’t want to go into depth about it, but it seemed to offer a very quick and easy way to manage a thesaurus of terms without having to deal directly with SKOS or RDF. During the talk, Andraeas Blumauer briefly showed us an ontology based around breweries, then asked for suggestions for local breweries. Consequently, he added information for Fullers and published it right away. To see linked data actually being created and published (if not hand-crafted) was certainly unusual and refreshing. Most of what I’ve read and seen has talked about converting large amounts of data from other sources, such as MARC records, EAD records, Excel files, Access databases, or Wikipedia. I’ve had a go at hand-coding RDF myself, which I intend to write about if/when I ever get this post finished.

I don’t want to go into detail too much about it***, but another SKOS-related talk was the final one from Bernard Vatant who drew on his experience in a multi-national situation in Europe to promote the need for systems such as SKOS to deal more rigorously with terms, as opposed to concepts. Although SKOS would appear to be about terms, in many ways it is not clear on many matters of context. For instance, using skos:altLabel “Beasts” for the concept of Animals as in the examples given above gives no real idea of what the context of the term is. Here is a theoretical made-up example of some potential altLabels for the concept of Animals which I think makes some of the right points:

Animal (a singular)
Beasts (synonym)
Animaux (French term)
Animalia (scientific taxonomic term)

These could all be UF or altLabels but using UF or altLabel gives no idea about the relationship between the terms, and why one term is a non-preferred term. He gave another instance of where this might be important in a multinational and multilingual context, where the rather blunt instrument of adding @en or @fr is not enough, when a term is different in Belgian, French, or Canadian varieties of French. This has obvious parallels in English, where we often bemoan the use of American terms in LCSH. Whether embedded in LCSH or as a separate list, it might be possible to better tailor the catalogue for local conditions if non-preferred terms were given some context. Perhaps “Cellular telephones” could be chosen by a computer to be displayed in a US context, but “mobile telephones” could be chosen in a UK context if the context of those terms were known and specified in the thesaurus.

Moving away from SKOS, Andy Powell talked about the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). I’ll admit I’ve always been slightly confused as to what the precise purpose of Dublic Core (DC) is and how one should go about using it. Andy Powell’s talk explained a lot of this confusion by detailing how much DC had changed and reshaped itself over the years. To be honest, in many ways I found it surprising how it is still active and relevant given the summary I heard. The most interesting part of his talk for me was his description of the mistakes or limitations of the DCMI caused by its library heritage. Another confession- my notes here are awful- but the most important point that stuck out for me was the library use of a record-centric approach, e.g.:

  • each book needs a self-contained record
  • this record has all the details of the author, title, etc.
  • this record is used to ship the record from A to B (e.g. from bibliographic utility to library catalogue),
  • this record also tracks the provenance of the data within the record, such as within the 040 field: it all moves together as one unit.

Contrast this with the sematic web approach where data is carried in triples. A ‘record’, such as an RDF file, might only contain a sameAs triple which relates data about a thing to a data store elsewhere; many triples from multiple sources could be merged together and information about a thing could be enriched or added to. This kind of merging is not particularly easy or encouraged by MARC records (although the RLUK database does something similar and quite tortuously when it deduplicates records). There’s a useful summary of all this at all things cataloged which opens thus:

Despite recent efforts by libraries to release metadata as linked data, library records are still perceived as monolithic entities by many librarians. In order to open library data up to the web and to other communities, though, records should be seen as collections of chunks of data that can be separated / parsed out and modeled. Granted, the way we catalog at the moment makes us hold on to the idea of a “record” because this is how current systems represent metadata to us both on the back- and front-end. However with a bit of abstraction we can see that a library record is essentially nothing but a set of pieces of data.

One problem with the linked data approach though is the issue of provenance which was referred to above as one of the roles the MARC record undertakes (ask OCLC, e.g. If you take a triple out of its original context or host, how can you tell who created the triple? Is it important? Richard Wallis always makes the point that triples are merely statements: like other web content they are not necessarily true at all. Some uneasiness on the trustworthiness or quality of data turned up at various points during the day. I think it is an interesting issue, not that I know what the answer is, especially when current cataloguing practices largely rely on double checking work that has already been done by other institutions because that work cannot really be trusted. There are other issues and possible solutions that are a little outside my comfort zone at the moment, including excellent buzzwords like named graphs and bounded graphs.

Andy Powell also mentioned, among other things:

  • the “broad semantics” or “fuzzy buckets” of DC which derive in large part from the library catalogue card, where, for instance, “title” or “creator” can mean all sorts of imprecise things;
  • flat world modelling where two records are needed to describe say, a painting and a digital image of the painting. This sounds to me like the kind of thing RDA/FRBR is attempting (awkwardly in my view) to deal with.
  • the use of strings instead of things, such as describing an author as “Shakespeare, William” rather than <http://www.example/authors/data/williamshakespeare>. This mirrors one of the bizarre features of library catalogues where authorities matching is generally done by matching exact strings of characters rather than identifiers. See Karen Coyle for an overview of the headaches involved.

There were three other talks which I don’t propose to go into in much detail. I’ve touched on Richard Wallis’s excellent (and enthusiastic) introduction to the whole idea of linked data and RDF, a version of which I found dangerously intriguing at a previous event given by Talis. He talked about, among other things, the use of the BBC in using linked data to power its wildlife pages (including drawing content from Wikipedia) and World Cup 2010 site; in fact, how linked data is making the BBC look at the whole way it thinks about data.

His other big message for me was to compare the take-up of the web to where the current take of linked data was in order to suggest that we are on the cusp of something big: see above for my discussion of the tipping point.

* I don’t like self-conscious classical plurals where I can help it, not that there’s anything wrong with them as such.
** I can’t help but find this name a little odd, if not actually quite camp. I expect there’s some pun or reference I’m not getting. Anyway. Incidentally, finding information about PoolParty from the punkt. website is not easy, which I find hard to understand given that it is a company wanting to promote its products; and, more specifically, it is a knowledge management (and therefore also information retrieval) company.
*** Partly because I don’t think I could do it justice, partly also because it was the most intellectual talk and took place at the end of the day.

CILIP (not) on Newsnight

I understand that CILIP was actually offered a chance to talk on Newsnight the other day. I’ve always been of the opinion that CILIP should make more effort to push itself into the media, to publicise and stand-up for the profession. The other day the BBC actually asked CILIP onto a programme, and a significant and highly influential one at that, and they didn’t have anyone available. I expect there are real and genuine reasons why there wasn’t anyone- apparently there were people willing to speak by phone or video link- but I think the fact that CILIP was not prepared for such an occasion, even when libraries were unusually in the news that day, is very symbolic of CILIP’s attitude and institutional inability to promote the profession and to deal with modern media. This is especially surprising given all the recent soul-searching within CILIP and the recognised urgent need for the library profession to defend itself as it’s a soft target in any upcoming cuts. Any robust response to the now infamous KPMG report (see p. 19) seems to have consisted of unofficial bloggers (e.g.) and bloggers from CILIP Update (e.g.), all largely preaching to the choir. I hope they were also pushing a press release down the BBC’s throat, although I haven’t heard of one.

Update:  I should point out that, according to the thewikiman,  CILIP apparently asked to be on Newsnight in the first place:

I now understand that in fact CILIP contacted Newsnight in the first place – although they ultimately couldn’t make it happen. For me, even though the end result is the same, there’s a huge difference between those two scenarios – in one, CILIP is shirking a fabulous opportunity, but in the other (in actuality) they were tryng to MAKE an opportunity offf their own proactiveness… Which is great. Shame, obviously, that it didn’t work out, and I stand by the idea that hevean and earth should be moved in such a scenario, but the most important thing to take from this new understanding of the events is that it shows CILIP is already moving in the right direction.

I have to agree with that.

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…”.

CILIP has RSS feed for job vacancies

Finally, CILIP has RSS feeds for its Lisjobnet library vacancies service! Hurrah! Although the RSS Jobs Feed page still has the title Temporary Librarian Jobs RSS Feed and text saying

LIS Jobs Temps uses this technology to update you with the latest jobs as they arrive throughout the day, making sure you’re among the first to know about the jobs you’re searching for.

Which is not ideal. Presumably they copied the code from the existing temps site which has had an RSS feed for a little while.

One upshot of this, which was part of a total site redesign at CILIP, is that my own unofficial CILIP Lisjobnet RSS feed no longer works and will not be maintained. This is however no problem except for the feed’s subscribers who I will have to point in the direction of the new one.

New submission for the Urban Dictionary?

I am considering submitting the following entry to the Urban Dictionary:

1. Had their authority record updated by the Library of Congress.

Euphemism. Died.

Hey, where’s Michael?
Dude! Didn’t you hear? He’s had his authority record updated by the Library of Congress.

As the linked article explains: “Remember the REVISED LCRI 22.17 contains a new option for cataloguers to add death dates to personal name headings with open dates. “

Librarians go like the clappers, say experts, says the Daily Mash

According to the Daily Mash,

QUIET, bespectacled female librarians really do go like a bloody train, it was confirmed last night.

I expect CILIP are, as ever, behind this contribution to the image of the librarian.

Grappling with web 2.0 by holding a large formal meeting

The UK library world (at least online) today seems obsessed by the debate/session being held at CILIP today to discuss the organisation’s involvement with web 2.0, mostly centered on CILIP’s failure to engage with anything like Twitter, Facebook, open blogs (by which I mean ones non-members could comment on, which they couldn’t until this whole thing blew up), RSS feeds (this being my own personal beef for some time), and the like. It all became a big issue following this post by CILIP CEO Bob McGee, followed by this post from Phil Bradley. I personally think it’s shocking, even if we take into account Bob McGee’s claim to be merely consulting on the issue, that CILIP have been so slow to develop any kind of presence in these kinds of sites and technologies. The reaction to hold a meeting was in some respects a good one, in some respects bad, as it shows how formal and slow CILIP still feels the need to be. They could have set up some official presences in various places like Facebook, their news feed could have been diverted to Twitter to reach a larger audience, and a vacancies RSS feed surely wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility, all cheap, quick, and easy to set up.

There are two issues here really: 1) that the professional body for information professionals is not involved in up-to-date methods of information dissemination, which is bad for its reputation and credibility; 2) that it is not using these technologies for its own purposes, e.g. marketing research into its own reputation and credibility, although, to be fair, Bob McGee started the whole thing by pointing out that people had been asking on Twitter about any official CILIP presence on micro-blogging websites.

Follow #CILIP2 on Twitter if want to see what is going on and you have nothing else to do this afternoon. I get the impression everyone who is going is also Twittering the event, so I wonder who will be actually partaking in the debate. The feed at the moment feels like a forum during the Eurovision Song Contest. There does seem a fair bit of optimism around the session, although I don’t think a formal session such as this can effect the cultural change at CILIP HQ to really make a difference, especially as these things keep changing and can’t rely on one meeting and one set of resolutions.

Twittering about CILIP

Bob McGee (chief executive of CILIP) asks if CILIP should get involved with Twitter. Phil Bradley answers in no uncertain terms.

My own comment on the matter can be found on Phil Bradley’s post (together with a further plug for my CILIP vacancies rss feed). However, I think it is not without significance to this debate and CILIP’s attitude to technology, its own reform, and outreach, that I cannot comment on Bob McGee’s post itself as I am not a CILIP member. FTW.

On depressing contents notes

Perhaps the most depressing contents note I’ve come across for a while:

” … disc 5. Loss of a parent in adult life, loss of a partner or spouse and depression & helplessness (57 min.) — disc 6. Anger, aggression & violent deaths and disasters (69 min.) …”

If you must ask, this is from Colin Murray Parkes’s Bereavement, loss & change, 7 DVDs (484 minutes) of grief and depression, or at least how to cope with it, although I confess I haven’t actually actually watched it, so it might in fact be littered with cartoons, quips, good humour, and general gaiety.

Criticism of CILIP

There have been a number of recent posts debating, and in some cases criticising, CILIP and why one would join or become a chartered member:

In CILIP: What is it good for?, Information Overlord asked

if you’re a member, why are you a member? Out of habit? because you think it looks good if you are? some other reasons? If you’re not a member, what would make you want to become one??

The many commenters were mostly law librarians and mostly unenthusiastic. There was some debate, including some rare input from CILIP people who focussed on the publicity angle. Elspeth Hyams of CILIP made the point in response to CILIP’s silence on difficult issues with reference to the Kent “deprofessionalisation” that CILIP cannot intervene publicly in these cases as they represent both sides:

Kent was an interesting case because it illustrated why, unlike the Royal College of Nursing, CILIP cannot act like a union: the disagreement was between managers and their staff, at both levels, members of CILIP.

I think this is an admission that CILIP cannot and will not do public advocacy of the profession and support its members. In reply I wrote:

However, I cannot see why CILIP could not have even made a statement of the kind you just made, explaining the case, even[if] it only appeared on its website. Why when I read about this [issue] in the Guardian were CILIP not mentioned emphasising the importance of professional librarianship- which is surely half the point of the organisation- while the AUT were mentioned as campaigning against job losses? Surely too, there were also AUT members on both sides of that dispute: many university managers are also AUT members.

Matthew Mezey (news editor of Update) and Debby Raven (editor of Gazette) seemed to suggest that part of the answer lay in contributing more to these internal publications, to which I replied:

Update is an internal document. I doubt that many university or council managers outside the library read it, so I don’t think this is publicly advocating the profession at all. You talk of publicity, but preaching to the converted is hardly the issue. It is people and organisations outside the profession that need to be convinced. For example, when library closures are in the news, why is Ian Snowley [CILIP president, or not anymore I believe] not on TV?

Information Overlord provides an excellent summary and discussion of the above comments (without the vain self-references as above). In a comment to this second post, Jennie points out another Kent story, this time of a library closure, where the local community are marching and protesting and forming action groups, and still no word from CILIP

Anne Welsh picked up on this post by asking Why CILIP? She is a lot more positive and while noting,

I also noticed that although the post went up on 26 January, the first comment from a Cilip representative / employee was not until 11 February, indicating, perhaps, that RSS flows slowly to Cilip HQ.

she is generally much more positive and gives a number of reasons which she summarises thus:

So, I guess for me Cilip is all about keeping informed and networking. Further, I’d say that, as a member, I think of Cilip as something that I am part of, that I can contribute to, and, if there are enough other members with similar views, change.

Fair enough, although I think there are increasingly more ways to keep informed without handing over cash to Ridgmount Street, and that CILIP has failed to lead the way in information delivery and dissemination. I understand that CILIP will be invaluable for networking, depending on how you view networking and its necessity/benefits, something I don’t want to go into here. Anne also wrote a related post called Why charter? which discussed a talk she attended on the subject. There are some reasonable reasons given at one point (my numbering):

  • 1. improve your skill-base
  • 2. gain an insight into the library profession
  • 3. show a commitment to your profession and organisation, which can often lead to increased organisational security
  • 4. map your exper[t]ise – useful for future job applications

These are all things (no. 3 excepted) I feel I can, and should, do myself without having to rely on a crutch such as CILIP or part with money for the privilege. What worries me is the observation near the end that:

She and the other chartered librarians in the room all agreed wholeheartedly that chartering is a personal journey, so that although everyone fulfills the same criteria, the experience they gain along the way is totally unique.

I believe a qualification (counting chartership as a qualification) should not be about the journey but should prove something to a current or future employer. I don’t go to work for personal gratification or for a journey: I do so because I need the money but I want to do the best I can while I am there. A commenter, James P. Mullan, says something similar which I wholeheartedly disagree with:

I also think Chartership shows a committment to a career in Librarianship, I’m always concerned about anyone who doesn.t want to become a Chartered Librarian as a result.

The library profession seems obsessed by proving commitment (rather than providing skills): I’ve heard that used as a reason to pursue the M.A. too. Surely this is something for an employer to worry about: commitment to a job is surely far more important than commitment to a career or a profession. I’m happy to do my job to the best of my ability and don’t think I am a worse librarian in any way because I don’t attend certain seminars or training courses in order to pursue chartership.

101 Tips for School Librarians has a different take on chartership:

CILIP are often accused of non-representation in the school library community. They take £17 off my pay every month, and I still can.t figure out why, other than the fact that I can continue to call myself .chartered.. My wife pays £30 a year for the same privilege as a teacher. Something doesn’t add up. I’m sure CILIP would disagree with my assessment, so their end of the stick can be found here.

However, they do have a couple of useful spots on their website, and they offer decent training events if you can afford to travel to London.

Most of this of course is available without membership, although training events will obviously cost more; the range of training courses, especially in terms of specificity, also needs drastic improvement in my opinion. He also mentions LisJobnet (freely available online, even to non-members), and their special interest groups. Having never been a member, this latter is one area which I really cannot comment on, although Mr 101tips says they “vary between the bland (2 shoddy leaflets a year) to the sublime (real support)”.

I would in any case recommend you read the actual posts and comments, especially the Information Overlord ones.