Wednesday 7 March 2012

Who else is out there?

I have given this blog the rather strange title of 'who else is out there', simply because this is how I often feel.  Working in a school and being the only professional librarian there means I have become rather an insular figure in the world of libraries as inevitably I have become more focused on the world of education than libraries.  That is not to say I am aware of the very well known fight across the country to save our public libraries and I 'follow' many of the 'leaders' of this crusade on Twitter as well as keeping up to date with Voices for the Library, but my understanding of the work of libraries in other sectors had been out of date and considering that the fourth criteria for Chartership is to show that you have ''a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context'' page 11 in Building Your Postfolio; the CILIP Guide, this was an area I looked to develop.

Over the past few months, I have been drawn into the merger of the three CILIP branch groups in the southwest; CILIP SW, and the Career Development branches of Cornwall and Devon and the Westcountry as a result of attending a library meet up, arranged via Twitter.  As a result my links with other professionals took a huge leap forward as the person who had arranged the meet up is now my mentor (see a previous blog post for details of why I had to change my mentor) and the previous chair of Devon & Cornwall CDG, the Information Services Librarian for Plymouth Libraries with whom I am meeting in a few weeks, librarians from the two local Higher Education Institutions and a Library Manager from Cornwall.  As a result of this meet up, I found myself a committee member of the new group piloting the merger of the previous three south west CILIP groups.

The new group mission was published in October 2011 and stated that the aim was to have a more cohesive group so that members would have access to CPD and have their say in how the group should be run.  My initial concern was that the group will cover a large area which may mean that some people may begin to feel a little isolated from the main three towns of the area, Exeter, Bristol and Bournemouth.  As I am based in Plymouth, the three main town aspectm made my raise my eyebrows and I acknowledge another member's plaint that even Exeter is a long way from deepest Cornwall.  However there will always be some form of travel incurred for most CPD and getting to Exeter is ok for me.  I applaud the sub sections of Goal 2, especially the idea of a conference for the region (getting everybody under one roof for a day is always a good idea), relevant and affordable courses and and opportunities to visit other libraries in the region.  The other main contribution for members would be Chartership support  including preparing for chartership and portfolio building courses etc.  I also applauded the point of being able to communicate using new technologies as much of my personal CPD is now done via Twitter with even email obselete when you can send someone a direct message on Twitter to arrange a meeting as I have recently done.

As a result, I received an invitiation to the first committee meeting of the new group on 15th February which unfortunately meant I couldn't attend as it was half term and I was away! Once again the downside of being quite isolated within the educational sector as I don't know if school holidays were taken into consideration and indeed it was interesting to note that some of the other school staff on the committee also sent their apologies.  However I received the minutes and was particularly interested to find that several librarians I follow on Twitter are also committee members; one of the things you can protect on Twitter is your location so I was pleased to find that I already 'knew' other people which made me feel less isolated.  The mission statement was discussed as was the need for a regional group as CILIP HQ can be quite remote sometimes; it must be difficult for any body representing all of the UK to be everywhere at once and I was pleased to see that the need to support and network with general members was highlighted as was a move to see how the special interest groups in the southwest could be supported as well.  Then other element I was pleased to read was the events update.  It can be hard to get out of schools sometime - issues of cover etc, but I am definitely going to try for the Library Camp at Exeter and the AGM, also at Exeter and the chance to hear Phil Bradley hopefully!

The lobby for Parliament on the 13th March was mentioned under AOB and members urged to support this.  The aim is to get as many people as possible lobbying their MP under the right to meet with your MP as one of their constituents and to explain how you personally are being affected by the cuts in library services, informing them of what is happening to libraries in your area and how their constituents are being affected and to take your concerns to the Government. The lobby is being organised by the coalition organisation 'Speak Up for Libraries' including UKpling, CILIP, WI, Campaign for the Book and Unison.  There will also be a rally showing the many 'faces' of the library which will take place after Ed Vaizey gives evidence to the select committee on library closures.

All in all, I now feel slightly less isolated then before.

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