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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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    Friday, May 05, 2006

    LIS-CILIP: a list FOR CILIP or a list ABOUT CILIP?

    Just in case there are readers ofthis blog who are both interested in CILIP matters and not following the debate on and about LIS-CILIP, here is a quick summary. Following my last post both here and to LIS-CILIP there has been considerable support for the continuance of the list and a less-strong support for the notion that the list should continue to be available for both CILIP members and non-members (as it is now). I posted a message today which both stated my position on LIS-CILIP and summed up some of the discussion yesterday. I copythat posting here in full:
    As the person who started this particular ball rolling, I should like to clarify my position. I apologise for not doing so yesterday, but I was travelling.

    I want LIS-CILIP to remain, and to remain open to non-CILIP members, for the following reasons (some of which have been articulated above). It should remain because:

    1. Mailing lists are "push technology" - that is messages come to members without their constantly having to remember to go check if anything new has happened. (As Edward Dudley has just said, "LIS-CILIP obeys Ranganathan's Fourth Law: 'Save the time of the reader'.")I know that CILIP wants to capitalise on its website, and so it should, but it is a serious mistake to expect a website to work without anything to
    constantly draw people back to it... and that is how the mailing list could and should work. So (a) LIS-CILIP is necessary because is pushes information to users most of whom will not get it otherwise, and (b) LIS-CILIP is a means to keep users coming back to the website (that is very basic website strategy).

    2. As has been clearly demonstrated, LIS-CILIP is valued.

    3. LIS-CILIP is a focus for CILIP- and professional-oriented debate of which CILIP is aware and which CILIP monitors at only slight cost of staff time. It has (or should have) value in the administration, management, planning and strategy spheres in letting CILIP know views and opinions to which it should react.

    4. LIS-CILIP works well as it is - if it aint broke, don't try and fix it!

    5. LIS-CILIP only nominally belongs to CILIP. If it were closed it would either be re-opened with a slightly different name (the-list-formerly-known-as-lis-cilip@jiscmail [something of a Sting in the tail!]) or the debate will move to FreePint, LIS-LINK, LIS-UKEIG, etc where CILIP will have even less 'control' over events.

    6. LIS-CILIP is NOT an alternative to the web-based Communities of Practice (or they to it) - they have different uses and a different value. What IS important to understand is that without LIS-CILIP to keep drawing members back to the CoP, the CoP will probably fail. Nor is it, and nor is it viewed as, a means of communicating with staff at Ridgmount Street (see below): it has an entirely different - a discursive/debating - role which does not hinder or prevent such communication to e.g. [log in to unmask] in any way.

    I believe it should remain non-member as well as member because:
    1. CILIP cannot afford to be 'ivory-towered' in its outlook and it should represent/respond to/advocate the views of the profession at large. It is not about members or non-members, it is about the profession, which it represents. And I for one do not mind if some small amount of my sub goes to support the profession-at-large (and therefore a few non-members) rather than just those others who choose (or are able/can afford) to pay for membership.

    2. CILIP should regard LIS-CILIP as an opportunity. One of our strategic tasks at this time and in the near future is to grow membership (sorry about that silly phrase!) and what better way to reach non-members than LIS-CILIP. Lets walk the walk as well as talking the talk.

    3. CILIP courses are open to non-members as well as members. Apart from seeing this as a precedent for inclusivity, LIS-CILIP must represent a marketing opportunity.

    Against all of this, Jill Martin has raised 2 disadvantages to LIS-CILIP:
    1. It is open to anyone - I have already given my thoughts on why it should be and the value that this offers to CILIP.

    2. It is not moderated (so debate cannot be stimulated, threaded or fostered) - it does not need to be moderated, but it does need to be monitored so that CILIP can respond when appropriate. At small cost to staff time (and it IS a small cost, even when major discussions such as this take place) this should be put in place. As an aside, it is interesting that more CILIP staff do not join in these discussions - which surely must be of interest to them - is there some prohibition in place? I DO so hope not: CILIP against freedom of speech? No, of course not.

    This is more or less the case that I shall be making in Council. The main point for me is that CILIP should be led by, and listen to, the profession-at-large. If it does not do so, it cannot fairly claim to be a professional body. Membership supports that role, it does not circumscribe it.

    Thanks you for all the support.
    One of the small debates that arose following this post centred on the fact that, as a JISCMAIL list, LIS-CILIP is in fact not 'owned' by CILIP and so CILIP does not have it in its power to close the list. My original posting quoted Bob McKee's welcome to the list when it was started in 2002. I posted the following late this afternoon:
    The list may be a mailing list on JISCMAIL but it was set up on behalf of CILIP and at CILIP's request. I draw your attention again to Bob's 2002 welcome to the list, which was still on the CILIP website (as of last week, anyway):
    “The new list will be an important two-way communication channel for CILIP and all its Members, wherever they are based. It will also help forge strong links between Members, which is crucial to the development of our new Institute… The establishment of LIS-CILIP is one of the first steps towards achieving CILIP's vision of an inclusive e-community Institute, fit to serve the needs of library and information professionals in the 21st century.”
    It was set up as, and is, a list for CILIP rather than about CILIP.
    It seems to me that CILIP has a right to consider the closure of LIS-CILIP as it set LIS-CILIP up (albeit indirectly). BUT in considering such a step, CILIP must both consider the needs of its members and the profession, AND follow appropriate governance procedures through Council. This we have achieved, and this is where we are now. The purpose of my raising the issue was to demomstrate support for the list, which I think has largely been achieved.

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