Since the merger of the LA and the IIS to form the rather insipid Cilip, the organisation has been on a downward spiral. Intent on transforming itself into some sort of generic Knowledge & Information (KIM) based organisation, it is now, unfortunately, neither one thing or another – neither fish nor fowl as the saying goes – much to the detriment of its membership.
This became abundantly apparent during the renaming debacle as the membership could not agree on a name that represented all the disparate elements Cilip claims to represent: libraries, information, knowledge. It spoke volumes about the proposed names that we voted to maintain the status quo and retain the rather dull and uninspiring title of Cilip.
Seeking to shed its library based heritage it has also shed members at an alarming rate, from 25,000 to 13,500. However, what is not clear is why? Currently, Cilip represent librarians by default in that there is no other professional body for us to join but as the organisation becomes more KIM based perhaps librarians no longer feel Cilip is the body to represent their views and concerns and therefore vote with their feet.
This in itself leads to a Catch-22 situation, where more librarians leave and Cilip is forced to look at other professional areas to bolster numbers, thus changing the nature of the organisation and making it less relevant to librarians, who then in turn leave!
So if Cilip can be reformed to appeal to librarians and draw them back into the fold (and that’s a very big ‘if’) what should it do? For a start, I suggest two areas:
- A high profile and targeted recruitment drive towards librarians and library staff (within all areas: public, school, academic etc.) to increase membership numbers
- More overt advocacy, again for all areas. After all it’s not just public libraries that face cuts.
That said, Cilips reaction to public library cuts has so far been inadequate at best, leaving it to individual members and campaigners to do their job for them. I’ve always thought that Cilip should have instigated and run something similar to the superb PLN site. The fact that it has been created and maintained by one librarian is testament to the dedication and passion of Ian Anstice but it also highlights how woefully inadequate Cilips own response has been.
There are of course other areas that need reforming including the relationship between the AGM and Council. However, that as they say, is a topic for another day.