Thursday, 31 March 2011

March for the Alternative

Last Saturday I was in Central London taking part in the March for the Alternative. This was a last-minute decision. I already had plans for that weekend. I'm not the sort of person who goes on marches, or even gets involved in anything relating to politics.

I went because I am angry about the prospective cuts, to libraries of course but also to the other public services I've always taken for granted. I was relieved to find so many people on the march who clearly felt the same way. There was a great atmosphere all the way from Embankment to Hyde Park, with people of all ages and from all walks of life. I didn't see any evidence of violence.

I wish I'd made plans to go earlier, because I might have been able to meet up with some of the other librarians who were going - I decided not to try on the day because I only know them through Twitter and there were so many people there I was sure I wouldn't be able to find them! If any of you are reading this - maybe next time! I found the day really rewarding and worthwhile and if there's another march any time soon, I'll be there.

Monday, 14 March 2011

CILIP in London & Career Development Group AGM

The 2011 Annual General Meeting for the CILIP in London group and the Career Development Group (London & South East Division) was held on Wednesday 9th March. As I've recently moved to London and found myself on the CDG London & SE committee, I decided to attend. I'd never been to a CILIP AGM before, and I didn't know anyone else going, so I was rather nervous as I went in, particularly as walking into a room full of strangers is right up at the top of the list of 'My Least Favourite Things to Do'. I hadn't been there long, however, when one lady came over to me to start a conversation and when she learned I'd only been in London for three weeks, she gave me her card and asked me to get in touch and go for a coffee. Librarians really are lovely people! I managed to speak to a couple of other people too which really put me at my ease.

The CILIP in London AGM kicked off the evening, followed by the CDG London & South East AGM. I found it really interesting to hear about the past year's activities as I hope to get involved in some during the coming year. Both committees seem to be having difficulties recruiting members: the CILIP in London group more so than the CDG. It was suggested that the two groups could unite and organise joint events in the future. From my limited observation of the evening I feel as though this would be a good idea, and it might allow a chance for younger enthusiastic professionals and older experienced librarians to share experiences and learn from each other (and I'm aware these are massive generalisations!).

Once the main business of the evening was concluded, it was time for the guest speaker, CILIP Chief Executive Annie Mauger, who spoke on 'Partners & Partnerships: Building the Future CILIP', or, as her talk was renamed, 'CILIP, The Universe and Everything'.

I didn't make notes at the event, as I would have found it too distracting while trying to listen, so I'll just mention some of the things that stuck out for me. One of the first things Annie talked about was that networking helps to give you confidence as you move up in your career - something which made me feel happy about coming along to the AGM. I'm not the most confident person in the world but I hoped that getting more involved in CILIP would be beneficial in this respect and it's nice to know it's worked for others.

CILIP is to undergo a lot of changes over the coming year. There is a move to unite the organisation under a set of values rather than skills, because of the widely different nature of the skills that different librarians and information professionals possess. Having said this, there is to be a new LIS skills map and a review of CILIP qualifications and the various branches and groups. In these difficult economic times there is a need to justify members' money and recruit new members to CILIP.

I felt that attending the AGM was really worthwhile as it helped me feel part of the profession and remain engaged with the wider issues. I've found that since completing my MA and entering full-time work that it's easy to get stuck in that one post and lose sight of the bigger picture, which really isn't something I want to do. I hope to go to more events like this in the future and I'm looking forward to getting involved with the CDG London & South East committee.