Welcome back. I like Bob - he's a nice chap and very personable, but I can't articulate enough how wrong he is on this issue, though I'll try. He says 'There's some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any "official" presence on various lists or micro blog sites. Sorry Bob, but we were discussing this on Twitter two weeks ago. The boat has long since left on this one and we've moved onto other things related to CILIP now. This in itself is worrying - if you'd actually looked at Twitter you would have known this, so clearly you're being briefed and are blogging about it without any real understanding. That's fair enough in a way, because no-one can be on top of everything, though if it's important enough for you to blog, surely it's important enough to research a little yourself.
The more important issue isn't that, it's the delay in a response. Two weeks is not only unacceptable, it's insane. We don't live in a world where people have the leisure to take their time crafting a response; we did back in the day when websites were the way to get a message out, but then we moved into a response time of hours with blogs, and now we're at minutes with Twitter. As a rule of thumb, I'm finding that a mention of an organization or company on Twitter is getting me a response within a couple of hours now. And these are companies, both large and small, who feel that it's important to respond to comments from individuals, both good and bad. Less than this is sending out a very poor message indeed. Now, I know that the answer here is going to be referred to lack of staff, limited facilities and so on, and that's simply a cop out. An effective use of resources, monitoring blogs etc can be automated, take very little effort to set up or use and information can then be disseminated through the organization quickly. In my courses I teach librarians how to do this, and in most cases it's just pointing them towards the right tools. If they can do it on a personal level, surely we can expect the professional body to do the same thing?
Let's move on. "The simple answer, of course, is no." Why is that an 'of course'? It's neither hard or difficult to set up, and it's not time intensive. I appreciate that it's not easy to choose which emerging technologies or resources to use, but Twitter is pretty widely reported these days, hundreds of librarians and libraries are using it, CILIP groups are active on it, so why 'of course'?
The next section really did make my jaw drop. "In terms of "official" activity, cyber life is just like real like (sic) - if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it's official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else's space, it isn't." This is a classic 'ownership' issue - if we say it's real then it's real, and if we say it isn't real, then it's not. If I'm in a CILIP sanctioned space (whatever that is!) do my words and arguments take on more meaning than if I'm not? Or perhaps I need to have an official CILIP representative to add some gravitas to my comments? We don't live in a world when the organization or PR department can control the message any longer - things have moved on, and the webpage/site, while important, is no longer the sole place in which activity can take place. You cannot own the space any more and by not participating you're not stopping the conversations taking place, you're not stopping people making up their own minds, you're simply not involved or engaged. Moreover - just how insulting do you want to become? What gives you the right to tell people that their views don't matter?
Now, before you start using the "official" bit with me let me expand on that slightly. I understand that an official comment isn't the same as an unofficial one. However, your lack of engagement, except in channels, places and under situations you control is not only unprofessional it's insulting to all of these people who do care enough about the organization to spend time talking about it. We can't always do that with 'official' representatives around, but that doesn't mean that what is said isn't accurate or useful or valid, and it certainly doesn't mean CILIP shouldn't be involved. I'm getting an image here of CILIP standing with its fingers in its ears going 'la la la, we can't hear you.'
The question is raised 'how does an organization maintain a culture of inclusion, while retaining a methodical approach to work planning, managing and decision making?' CILIP doesn't currently have a culture of inclusion though; quite the opposite. That's already been made clear with the concept of CILIP sanctioned space. It's further made clear on your very own weblog 'CILIP members may post comments'. Not anyone else. That's not a culture of inclusion (and plenty of other professional organizations welcome comments from non-members), that's a culture of exclusion. By not engaging with people in a variety of different places, by ignoring them that's not a culture of inclusion, it's an isolationist policy. I deal with librarians almost every day who see it as their role to get information to people however they need it - face to face, by email, via websites, via social networking; they see the ability to share and include as a good thing. Yet the professional body itself is taking the exact opposite view!
However, to attempt an answer to the question posed, I would say that it's necessary to explore these networks, to try things out, to play with them and to see if they can be incorporated into daily work flows. Not to dismiss them out of hand because they're not in CILIP sanctioned space. If you don't explore these resources you're not going to be able to answer that question! You should be doing the exact opposite of what you're currently doing.
There certainly is a widening gap between the culture of the institute and the culture of the network. You're able to acknowledge that, yet you can't seem to be able to get passed that. Yet other companies, other organizations and, dare I say it, libraries are already embracing new approaches, different ways of working and different ways of engaging. This isn't new - in order to answer the question just *look around you*. Perhaps even actually engage in 'non CILIP sanctioned' places. Encourage staff to do so. Stop trying to control everything, and explore new methods.
The question is asked 'how do we deal with this gap, bringing together the best features of an institute and network'. You do it by doing it. You start by trying things out, by embracing a culture of change, by accepting the possibility that things can work differently, by allowing staff to get involved, by looking at Twitter, and Facebook and everything else that's out there. You accept that you're not going to get everything right, and accept that even if you get things wrong you're learning. You try and set an example. If I want to see what is happening in British Librarianship at the moment - the last place that I would look for guidance and examples of good practice would be at the professional body; I'll go into the field and talk to librarians who are doing it. Who are using Twitter, Facebook and the rest of it, who are prepared to try things out to see what works. CILIP is not doing this - CILIP is still sitting in splendid isolation, talking about 'sanctioned spaces'. CILIP is denying a voice, deliberately, to people who might want to engage, but in places and times of their choosing. CILIP is ignoring the possibilities afforded by Twitter by not even looking at how they could be used. I almost weep for the many good, effective and professional people who work there - people that I know want to do more than they're able to at the moment.
I am ashamed of CILIP.
Next (and sorry, but we're not finished yet), we have the astonishing phrase 'just to test whether anyone actually reads this stuff'. Yes, we do. Why would you think that we wouldn't - because it's you who is saying it, or because it's in a weblog? Or is it because, if it was up to you, you wouldn't be reading it if it was someone else?' Are you reading this, Bob? I'll bet money that you're not. Or, if you do, it's because it's been brought to your attention. Because if you assume other people aren't going to be reading your material, it's probably because you're not reading theirs. We continue - 'how can we best combine the authority of our institute with the democracy of our network?' Well, because CILIP is not engaged with it's staff, clients, members and other interested parties, why do you assume that you have much authority? Individuals working in your organization have authority - huge amounts of it, and I listen to them, when I get the chance. Your groups have tremendous authority as well - but CILIP? You're abrogating that authority every single day that you're ignoring the discussions, by clinging to the concept of 'sanctioned space', by desperately trying to cling to control when it's slipping through your fingers, away from your network and out into social spaces. Also 'our network'. That again speaks volumes, because the whole thrust of the internet is towards shared space, community networking, and away from closed networks. Tragically I don't think you even understand how wrong that question is.
Last of all, and we've finally got here, 'Answers on a blog post, please, to this address. And no peengeing'. I have no idea what that last word means, so forgive me for ignoring it. In the two responses, both by the same person, we have the statement 'I would leave a comment if I could work out how'. It's one final, sad reminder that CILIP doesn't want discussion, it doesn't want to engage, it simply wishes to control it's 'sanctioned space'. That's a dreadful situation, and bitterly upsetting. However, unlike CILIP - if you want to respond you're more than welcome to - my blog comments are open to anyone who wants to make a comment, and I'll post anything you care to say to me Bob. I doubt that you will, because I doubt that you're interested enough to engage in conversation, though I'd be happy for you to prove me wrong.