Posts Tagged ‘librarians’

Why I’ve (re-)joined CILIP

Posted on September 12th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

Cilip officeIn counterpoint to my last blog post, and so I don’t leave the lasting impression that I’m some sort of curmudgeonly hyperindividualist…

I’ve recently joined CILIP, the ‘Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’. It’s the professional body for librarians. I was a student member while I was doing my MSc,  but I dropped my membership as soon as I graduated (i.e. as soon as I became liable for full members’ fees!), so I’m counting this as my first period of ‘proper’ membership.

Other people have given quite coherent accounts of why they’ve recently resigned their membership of CILIP, and as an organisation it does take a fair bit of flak from its current, ex-, and potential members. So why have I signed up, and why now?

  1. I couldn’t justify the membership cost a couple of years ago; now I can better afford it.
  2. The odd grumpy blog post aside, I’m quite a sociable sort, and I enjoy participating in groups of interesting people who share my interests.
  3. I now know (i/r/l or via Twitter) a few|of the|people involved in running CILIP. They’re good people. I’m sure there have always been good people involved in CILIP, but I didn’t know them then. See? Logic.
  4. And now when I don’t agree with how CILIP is run, I get a say in changing it for the better.
  5. I can save my employer some money on training courses, often discounted for members, which might mean I’ll get to go on more of them.
  6. It’s better to be inside the boat than outside, when it’s stormy (or ruder versions of the same proverb).

But did I join CILIP for the job alerts, magazine/newsletter, current awareness, networking opportunities, practical training, conferences, etc.? Probably not. I can have my needs met on the Internet for all of those things, more quickly and with less mess. So to speak.

And did I join for the opportunity to become professionally certified?

I… haven’t decided yet. Convince me.

What the devil’s an advocate?

Posted on September 12th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

As is usual with Twitter, I’m running the risk of falling afoul of Godin’s law (well, one of Godin’s laws. Not this Godin’s law) over a discussion about librarians’ role in advocating for libraries.

The original Tweet that got me into trouble was @walkyouhome‘s:

“Is it unreasonably harsh to say that people who refuse to advocate shouldn’t be in a profession that needs advocating for?”

I say yes, that would be unreasonably harsh on those people.

Not because advocacy for libraries isn’t A Good Thing – because clearly it is.

And not because library workers shouldn’t be making advocacy a priority – no problem with that. It’s purely because I’m viscerally opposed to the idea that if I, as an individual working in a library, have an opinion on a topic (advocacy, the rules of cataloguing, censorship, the correct colour of packet for salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps, whatever) which is in opposition to the prevailing view taken by the bulk of people doing the same job as me, then that should mean I oughtn’t be allowed to call myself a librarian.

Or, if my strengths or talents in information management happen not to include an aptitude for selling my library’s services to potential users/holders of purse strings, that shouldn’t mean I’m less of a librarian.

Should it?

Alright, it goes deeper than that – I’m not generally comfortable with the stance on being a ‘professional’ librarian taken by some people and organisations. Sometimes—just sometimes—it can come across as a bit exclusivist and self-serving. The quote I hate most is the occasionally-spotted “…silly library users think that just anyone who works in a library is a librarian!!!“. Horrible horrible horrible. I don’t believe the division between professional and para-professional (is that the right term?) in libraries is a particularly significant one; the rest of the world clearly doesn’t give a hoot; I think perhaps it’s time that little internal division was knocked down for good.

So; if there’s an accepted definition of what it means to be a “professional librarian”, then exactly what should happen to me if I disagree with it or if I’m put into a position where I’m acting against it? If I’m working in a library capacity for my employer (who has defined my contract of employment and who allows me to pay my bills), and I’m doing things as an employee that don’t jibe with those accepted definitions of librarianship, do I deserve banishment? (N.B. this is a hypothetical employer, y’understand, and not the University of Lincoln – which, as I’ve mentioned recently, is a groovy place to work.) Should my professional identity be subject to the opinion of a (non-elected, non-accountable) body of fellow professionals?

And finally, on advocacy itself (it’s A Good Thing, remember?): at the back of my mind there’s a little niggling fear that while we’re spending an awful lot of time worrying about library advocacy, marketing, promotion, etc.; other sections of the Information-O-Sphere™ are quietly getting on with the business of meeting users’ needs in more meaningful ways (oh yeah, and making money in the process). That is, while we’re standing still and shouting about it, our com|petit|ors are concentrating on getting their services right. I know that’s a gross oversimplification, but thereyago.

Signed,
Grumpy.

10 practical & accessible library technology blogs

Posted on June 17th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

Here are ten of the best practical library tech blogs that I follow. They’re all about technology (ish), but they’re not geeky or inaccessible. Most but not all, are written by people in of UK Higher Education libraries. In case you want to subscribe to them en masse, I’ve bundled them up into an OPML file which you should be able to import into a feed reader (e.g. Google Reader).

Q. Have you got a good library technology blog? Care to share?

  1. Copac Developments
    What’s happening behind the scenes at Copac
  2. Electronic Resources Blog
    Library Services, University of Huddersfield
  3. eLibrary
    eLibrary team, Birmingham City University
  4. Fulup’s blog
    A librarian at De Montfort University
  5. Musings around librarianship
    Aaron Tay, a librarian at the National University of Singapore
  6. NewT Bham – where technology and libraries meet
    New Technologies Group at the University of Birmingham Library
  7. Phil Bradley’s Weblog
    Internet consultant and (2011) CILIP Vice-president
  8. ResourceShelf ResourceBlog
    We find the sources; you get the credit!
  9. “Self-plagiarism is style” – Dave Pattern’s blog
    Library Systems Manager at the University of Huddersfield
  10. UoL Library Blog – develop, debate, innovate
    University of Leicester