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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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    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    CILIP and governance...

    ... from a "white, middle-class and old" (well, aging) Councillor in response to the correspondence in the March issue of CILIP's Library + Information Update.
    Frivolously, I could suggest that Council is aging me faster than I would wish - but I actually want to address a very serious issue that John Pateman raised and to which Bob McKee did not respond: John wrote:
    Governance needs to be seriously addressed - current arrangements are too big and expensive. CILIP Council is bureaucratic and intimidating ... It is a comfortable and cosy, exclusive clique ...
    In the December Council, I said almost exactly that - and a little more. My view was, and is, that Council is also a broken reed: Council lacks virtually any influence on governance. As the governing body of CILIP, Council should be pro-active in deciding on (i.e. instrumental in originating) policies, strategies and governance. The current over-weighty governance structure makes this impossible and Council is reduced to agreeing on decisions made in advance of meetings by other committees, by the Executive Board, by senior management, etc. Councillors struggle to Council under the weight of a mountain of paper received too late to do anything except skim on the train, and certainly without the benefit of discussing issues amongst themselves prior to the meeting. I called for a review of governance and an improvement in communications ... and I am happy to report that Councillors now have a proper mailing list to facilitate discussions (a specific request from my paper), and that - as readers may have seen in the Gazette - there is to be a Task Force to review all aspects of governance during 2006.
    Council is CILIP's governing body - by the end of 2006, I hope that we shall be able to hold up our head to that claim.
    I hope that the Task Force will be able to examine the existing hierarchy of governance as well as the roles of Council and all the committees, panels, boards that surround it. One might begin by wondering whether an Executive Board - specifically there to take decisions between Council meetings - is really necessary in an age of instant communications by email and a Council mailing list. My view is that everything that currently makes up CILIP governance should be examined very carefully to determine whether it is performing a useful role ... and if the Task Force decides, and Council agrees, on something that requires a change to the Bye-laws or the Charter, so be it, that too can be changed.
    The Gazette (24th February) calls for members (as well as Councillors) to take part in the review of governance, so this is your chance to take part and influence the way your Institute is run. I hope to see some of you there!

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