The CILIP New Professionals Day was held on the 9th of October at the CILIP headquarters in Bloomsbury. The event was primarily aimed at information professionals either currently studying for their LIS qualification, recent graduates, or those who had begun their career less than 5 years ago. Many of the presentations were relevant to the profession as a whole so I thought I would share what I thought were the most interesting aspects of each presentation.

Many of the sessions from the event are not covered by this post – if you were at the event and would like to contribute a review, please get in touch, we would love to hear what you thought!

Keynote Speakers: Simon Edwards, CILIP Director of Professional Services and Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive Officer.

Simon’s keynote addressed the general climate for our sector. He noted initially that it was a good time for the information profession as a whole due to a “groundswell of understanding” among the general population of what we do and the importance of our work. With the emergence of computing and the internet, all organisations need people who understand the way information is stored, accessed and disseminated and this is at the heart of what we do.

Conversely, he also outlined the challenges of justifying our value, to both our employers and the general public. On one hand we are often seen as obsolete now that “everyone is able to search”. Our task here is to demonstrate that assessing the value of information found is just as important as finding the information in the first place. On the other hand, we also need to justify our value despite being asked to do much more for much less. This comment seemed to be aimed primarily at public librarians, but it seems true of all information professionals that we are being asked to enter the workforce with many more hard and soft skills for roughly the same levels of remuneration.

Simon went on to stress that, within our work, “change is the new normal”. It will be a constant factor in our profession in the years to come – we need to be able to demonstrate that we are resilient to change and that we can get ahead of the curve. Employers now look not just for our technical expertise (which will constantly require updating), but also attributes like change management, project management and leadership skills.

Nick Poole, the CEO of CILIP was mainly speaking about CILIP’s Shape the Future campaign – a collaborative project to develop CILIP’s strategy for 2016-2020. This is a consultation open to CILIP members that runs between the 25th September and the 16th December 2015. He is urging anyone with an opinion on how CILIP ought to be run and what actions it ought to take in advocating for our profession to fill in the online questionnaire or engage with the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #CILIP2020.

Beyond the discussion of the consultation, Nick also spoke about his initial time at CILIP (he has been the CEO since June). CILIP are planning to publish a national position statement on public libraries, and they have drafted in the help of a barrister to challenge the deficiencies of the Public Libraries Act, and to specifically review the line in the Act referring to qualified information professionals. He is hoping that in the coming months CILIP can work to connect local lobbying attempts that protest library closures and staffing reductions to the national influence of the institute, so that there are not several, disparate voices, but one, united voice to advocate for the whole profession.

Nick seemed to be pushing for less hostility towards government, asking the audience rhetorically whether we should be going into battle against a perceived enemy, or trying harder to unite ourselves together. This sentiment was echoed later in his speech when he mentioned the motion of no confidence in Ed Vaizey MP that CILIP members voted for in September 2013 – Nick said that this achieved very little, and had a detrimental effect, essentially closing the door on CILIP being able to influence government for several months.

Overall, CILIP is looking to find the best way of advocating for its members, attempting to help those that are most under threat, but making sure all aspects of the profession are covered and feel that their voices are being heard. Nick and Simon were both urging the audience to get involved in any way they can – through joining and taking part in CILIP regional or special interest groups, undertaking Chartership or using the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base, and providing our opinions on CILIP’s development through the Shape Our Future consultation.

Sarah McMahon – Random Acts of Archiving: A Cautionary Tale

Sarah’s talk was a fascinating look at a service which fell into disarray and how it was rescued. Her workplace, the Penguin Random House archive is a store of over 1 million books and countless pages of editorial correspondence. Due to managerial issues, a lack of a clear strategy and poor communication on all sides, the archive was on the brink of collapse as recently as last year. Sarah talked us through how the archive was redeemed through bringing in new leadership, repairing relationships with key stakeholders and developing a long-term strategic plan for the archive’s future.

Sarah also spoke about how the service was ingratiating itself further with its owners, Penguin Random House, by demonstrating its value – she noted that they key to success of repositories like libraries and archives is proving value outside of monetary gain. In the case of the Penguin Random House archive, they have done this by making their archives accessible and visible to academics and the general public, either in-house or through online portals. They have also worked on making their whole organisation aware of what the archive is for, and what can be accessed, giving their corporate body a better idea of the resources and expertise available to them through the archive.

The archive, based in Reading, welcomes visits from LIS professionals and researchers. If you would like to organise a visit, you can contact Sarah’s team at Rushdenqueries@randomhouse.co.uk

Jo Cox & Michelangelo Staffolani – The British Library: Great Services and Content for You and Your Users

This talk was mainly concerned with the services that the library offers, aimed at people unfamiliar with the service. Most of the information in the presentation is available on the BL website (http://bl.uk), but it is worth noting that the Library’s document supply service (http://www.bl.uk/on-demand) has been revamped – the service now runs on HTML rather than Flash meaning it can be opened on mobile devices, and downloaded materials are now tied to users rather than the specific device the download was initially retrieved on, meaning downloads can be accessed from multiple devices. There was also mention of the Document Supply service releasing an API for integration with an organisation’s own Library Management System, so that books could be ordered via the BL directly from the library catalogue.

The presentations delivered were incredibly useful, but the main aim of the day was to promote new LIS professionals to network and collaborate. At the beginning of the day Nick Poole said as members of CILIP, “Our diversity is our strength”, and without events like this there is a risk that we become siloed into our industries, insulated from the great work other librarians and information professionals are doing. I would definitely recommend attending events like these set up by CILIP and other organisations based solely on the potential to meet other information professionals and learn from their practices.

Phil Gorman @philbgorman

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