There has been a lot of discussion about the relative benefits of membership to CILIP recently, and so I thought I would express my thoughts.
I believe that, ultimately, through my membership to CILIP I am demonstrating a commitment to my continual development of professional knowledge in a number of ways.
The information sector is one that is developing and changing in a number of ways, both technologically and socially, and so I feel that it is important to be able to keep abreast of developments.
I find the Update journal to be a valuable publication that keeps me engaged with my profession in its broadest sense. Articles in the journal ensure I am able to maintain a breadth of relevant professional knowledge by helping me to keep abreast of issues, developments and expertise from across the library and information sectors. I find the opportunity to read about best practice, case studies and research valuable because they give me the chance to find out about what other professionals are doing (in public libraries, further education, higher education, the private sector and special libraries), and to reflect upon my own practice.
Through the School Libraries Group, I have access to a regular newsletter (School Libraries in View) which has contributions from professionals from within my own sector of school libraries. Through the newsletter, I have access to articles that are specifically relevant to my context which, in the same way as Update, give me the opportunity to read about the excellent practice that goes on in school libraries across the country. It is through reading articles like this that I can once again reflect on my own practice, and hopefully find opportunities to develop my skills or the service I provide.
Contextualising and connecting
School librarianship can be an isolating role. However, with the superb support, collaboration and shared knowledge I receive through the fantastic School Librarians Network, I know that I have a connection with other school librarians that I can both tap into and contribute towards. The School Librarian Association is a further source of knowledge and expertise, providing excellent publications and a highly specialised journal which I see as essential reading. Membership to the SLA is, therefore, a must for me.
My membership to CILIP provides me with the chance to both connect, and contextualise my own practice. I am able to align myself with professionals from a range of different sectors, many of which have some impact or bearing upon my own. Through CILIP, I am able to present myself as a professional, with recognition from a national body that represents other information professionals and sets standards for us all to adhere to.
By belonging to the School Libraries Group, I am able to place myself alongside other professionals from my own sector whom all have a similar desire to maintain the progression of , and help to garner recognition for, our particular roles. On joining the group and recently attending my first national committee meeting, I have been able to see the high level of commitment each individual has to the advancement of school librarians. It has been on the behalf of school librarians that they voluntarily spend time and effort to ensure school librarians have a voice on appropriate forums, and influence with the appropriate bodies and persons. This, obviously, is not an easy task but now I really look forward to engaging in these activities during my time on the committee.
What does CILIP do for me?
In reflecting on the two themes above, I think that I have expressed some of the things that I feel that CILIP does for me. I guess that there are plenty of other things done on my behalf that I am only partially aware of, such as the attempts to exert political influence, engage with and inform policy and the drive to gain important, valuable media coverage. While school librarians may not be at the forefront of CILIPs activities, it is the body that represents all information professionals and I believe that I should engage with it, as a member, from the inside wherever possible. Ultimately, in my working life I strive to deliver a professional service to all stakeholders and being a member of CILIP provides me with another platform and a resource from which to do this.