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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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August 2008 Volume 6(4)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

President's Perspective

Where we stand

Alan Hasson urges you to take part in the debate about CILIPS’ relationship with the UK body.

This month in my leisure time I made a conscious decision to try to get away from the concentration on change and democracy and targets which no doubt dominates your life as it does mine. After a conference that was fizzing with ideas that were all about these three themes, I think this was understandable. So I started (and finished) two excellent books on subjects I know little of: A History of India by John Keay and Steven Mithen’s After the Ice: a global human history, 20,000-5,000 BC. Despite turning up nuggets of pure gold such as the importance of 13-24 Castle Street, Inverness, in European pre-history and definitely adding Gwalior, Tanjore and Sravana Begola to my must-see list, these were Bad Choices. I was back to the impermanence of everything, the constant of change even in 18,000 BC. The sub-themes of both books seemed to be: be complacent and you’ll be replaced. Heh ho.

This year’s conference, ably summarised in the last IS, was re-invigorating, particularly because of the concentration on delivery over the strategic framework and the quality of the change and development which were everywhere evident: no complacency there. For me the best day, amongst a series of excellent days, was that where the Branches and Groups took centre stage. I’d urge anyone committed to our services to make that one day a must-not-miss one in their calendar.

Back in the real world, I’m not sorry to say, the changes and the re-examination of how we work continues, at CILIP, CILIPS and by our colleagues in the other three home nations and their regions. This continuing reworking of recommendations, organisations, qualifications, organisational relationships and the implications of what was decided x months/years ago has the ability to get lost in a miasma of sub-paragraphs, appendices and amendments. However, if you are going to be done unto it’s usually better to have a direct voice and we are, after all, a membership organisation. One of the strengths of CILIP and CILIPS must be the willingness to submit proposals for membership scrutiny. The Branch structure in Scotland already allows your voice to be heard directly, through a locality base which links directly and democratically to CILIPS Council and hence onward to the UK structures. This has been augmented recently by the direct seeking of members’ views in Scotland through the questionnaires on priorities sent out by the CILIPS office to Scottish members.

In our current context there are at least two main themes of change. Firstly, the recasting of professional qualifications and the need for continuing professional development. Secondly, the continuing evolution of the relationship of the home nations and the CILIP central administration to each other.

On the first theme I shall write little. I look forward, as an Associate, to recommendations that are soundly based in what the membership wants, needs and has approved. I was amongst the first to go through the introduction of the licentiate system. I remain unconvinced that that system was fit for purpose. Currently, having just recently completed assessments for the single status process relating to professional and para-professional activities, both within the CILIPS area and out with it, I am more than aware of the challenges which must be overcome, through our present professional qualification framework, to achieve a recognition of that professional status. Anecdotally, given the information coming from other parts of Scotland, I’m not alone in facing that challenge. The remuneration for our colleagues particularly at the start of their careers, remains too low and too varied. A professional qualification and CPD that are, in practical terms, not seen as an essential by employers is losing its purpose.

On the second theme, that of the relationship between us and our colleagues within the UK it is, as it should be, an evolving process. Part of the positive experience of being your President is an involvement in meetings with the other Home Nations. These meetings can be absolutely stimulating, both in seeing the way that the different organisations address their different challenges and in the common themes they face. The differences come directly from their social milieu, such as the importance of the Welsh language as a touchstone of identity for CILIP Cymru/Wales, in the Northern Irish need to validate and celebrate diversity and in the English need for a distinctive voice. The commonality is in such as the societal challenges we face, in professional recognition, the increasing divergence of the political (read power) context within the four nations and of course in relationships to the UK body.

These last two common themes are closely inter-related and are ones to which I must return. The working out of relationships between the UK and the four Home Nations bodies is one of those organisational challenges, which if we are to remain a vibrant and relevant membership organisation, requires involvement by the widest range of members possible. Superficially it’s a process of introspection of a prolonged and detailed type. However, if CILIPS is of value to you, I would urge you to use the democratic processes in place and the opportunities to review and comment which CILIPS Council has agreed should augment that representative base, to take part in the debate over the coming months.

Before the next issue of IS I intend as a minimum to read Kirian Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss and re-read bits of Tom Peter’s Thriving on Chaos. There’s happy.


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Information Scotland Vol. 6(4) August 2008

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Last updated: 29-Aug-2008