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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Our Professional Body

    There has been an interesting discussion over the last few days on LIS-CILIP on the role of a professional body in the library and information profession. It began by questioning whether CILIP should accept job adverts for positions paying less than the appropriate salary but polarised around the issue of what is CILIP / who is CILIP. Is CILIP the chief executive (the face of CILIP) or is it the members?

    I want to come clean; I am a National Councillor, and therefore committed to the idea of CILIP as a professional body. I believe that CILIP is the sum of its members but know that a large majority of those members will never play an active part in any debate; I believe that CILIP should play an active part in our professional lives (advocacy, advice, publishing, CPD, etc) but I also believe that the members should dictate when and how this should be done.

    CILIP is run by an Executive Board and a Council – the Councillors should represent the views of the members. While Group or Branch councillors may do this, the mechanism for me to fulfil my role is less clear. I have no such constituency. Even Group and Branch councillors probably only represent the views of their management committee. The result is that Council appears to members as a meaningless cog in the hierarchy of CILIP management, and that CILIP appears to run itself largely according to staff decisions rather than through member-led policy. This is unfortunate: many members suffer from a ‘them-and-us’ (CILIP HQ/Ridgmount Street-and-the membership) view of life which makes their professional body seem increasingly irrelevant to them, although they seem unwilling to do anything about lessening the gap other than vent frustration by failing to renew their membership.


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