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February 27, 2009


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Chris Armstrong

Thank you Phil for generating this debate with your thoughtful response to Bob McKee's blog. For those who are reading this thread, please remember that it began in response to Bob McKee's blog, which - whatever he may choose to call it - is like every other blog, a PERSONAL viewpoint. As a CILIP Councillor, I can say that his personal views are not necessarily representative of Council's view, and are certainly not mine. I use, to a greater or lesser extent, most major 'Web 2.0' communications tools and understand their value. I believe that (and I shall continue to work towards this) - although it may take time - CILIP will eventually engage with you all as you would wish.

Steph Gray

Interesting - I'm not really from the library world, but stumbled across discussion of a Delicious-based tool of mine on a CILIP blog. I think the resulting conversation and list of links illustrates your point about distributed conversation quite well:



Just had to say that I found your article very interesting. Thanks for a piece of good work. Cheers.

Mrs Walsh

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers.

So what exactly is it leading in? There is currently a story about the closure of Wirral libraries on its site, this would have been an excellent use of something like Twitter to find out from the people what is going on, instead of dealing with the government bodies and doing what it thinks is right CILIP should be talking to the people at the coal face and helping them; other wise what on earth are we paying these inflated membership fees for? I have been a member for a few years now, but it is only because I'm currently doing a degree and get a student sub that I am a member, but if I stop being a member I'm not allowed to use ACLIP. I have complained several times about the extortionate prices of their courses without any success, I am afraid they need to do alot more than embrace Twitter to repair their image.


As the creator of the "unofficial" CILIP members group on Facebook, I too have experienced their apathy when it comes to social networking.

I very rarely look at CILIP Communities, and was surprised when I checked in one day last year to see that my group had been discussed. Having been made to feel slightly like a naughty schoolchild for daring to set up the group, I replied on the thread and got in touch with a CILIP marketing person to invite them to become involved in the Facebook group. I didn't hear anything else from them.

In a way, it proves to me the democracy of social networking in that CILIP members are choosing to use what speaks to them. It's a real shame however that the members of our professional organisation are choosing to stay behind.

Bob McKee

Thinking about this over the weekend convinces me we're touching the tip of a very big iceberg here - which is, fundamentally, about how social networking can change (for the better) the dynamic of institutionalised professionalism.I need to do some thinking about that - and all your comments are helping me do that thinking, so thank you. It's not particularly nice to be called patronising, controlling, autocratic and antiquated, but if that's how some of you see CILIP (and by extension the CILIP CEO) then we'd better do something about it!

I do my best thinking on trains and I've got a couple of long train journeys tomorrow. So I'll post something on Wednesday. I hope (and I mean this genuinely, not patronisingly) it will be helpful to the discussion .

Cheers. Bob.

Debby Raven

Mandy, there are around 23000 views that 'represent CILIP', don't forget, which is I think one of the points of this discussion - and they're certainly not all antiquated. And I'd love to hear them all via Tritter (along with those of non-cilip members!!).

Debby Raven (CILIP Gazette editor)

Matthew Mezey


As I mention in my 'Blogwatch' column in the new issue of CILIP's member magazine Update, a 4-page article looking at how LIS pros can use Twitter will appear in the next issue.

And it's written by Update's 'Internet Q+A' columnist... Phil Bradley :-)

Don't miss it!

Rather than 140 characters long, however, it is in fact 13,151 characters long... ;-)

By chance, my latest Blogwatch column also included a link so that CILIP members can view Tweets about 'CILIP'.

I had no idea that there was going to be *quite* so much to read about CILIP on Twitter at this time...

Also, if you're interested in how to you can use social media tools to increase your PR effectiveness – and how to monitor the conversations about your organsiation - I gave a presentation that covered many of these 'PR 2.0' issues to CILIP's Commercial, Legal and Scientific Information Group late last year.

It was titled: 'PR and Media Know-how - for personal and organisational effectiveness'.

Anyone – including non-members of CILIP – can read a pdf of the presentation here:
(sorry some pix get a bit grainy on the pdf)

Phil Bradley was one of the people who kindly offered me great advice about what to include (as did others: Sheila Webber, Euan Semple, Karen Blakeman etc etc).

Matthew Mezey
(News Editor, Library and Information Update magazine)

David Wilcox

Hi Phil - adding some general support over here - http://socialreporter.com/?p=527 - with a reference to OpenRSA. Maybe time for OpenCILIP?


Your comments, and those of Bob highlight the issues that arise when we consider the future of the information profession: amongst these issues are the problem that we don't have a protected professional niche - look at computer science and management disciplines and see how many move into information retrieval, search engine development, and knowledge management to name but a few areas that are frequently lost to the profession, and yet these are the areas where flexible, forward thinking librarians would be well placed to prosper. We don't have a single professional identity, and we don't have a dynamic approach to career pathways and entrepreneurial scoping of real world developments (and in this I include cyberspace as part of the real world). Alas the problems of the profession are all too well matched by a professional organisation that looks backwards to a "golden age", and that is sadly led by colleagues from a different world. Don't get me wrong Bob and colleagues are great people, but CILIP should in my humble opinion be out there promoting the diversity of the information profession, pushing the boundaries of where our people can make contributions, and dare I say it - stimulating members to look beyond the traditional profession. Unfortunately CILIP is at present more keen on pomp and authority than responsiveness, guidance, and leadership. Evidence: If you want evidence of interest in the future take a look on special interest groups in Facebook etc., take a browse around the web 2.0 world and you will find individuals working on the future, doing real work, and real thinking: they are the ones who may work in schools and academia, in libraries, and in business roles and for whom the unofficial world of cyberspace allows connectedness, collaboration, sharing, and a sense of identity. Compare this with the offerings of the official professional organisation, and a few websites and seminars look poor by comparison.

Bob claims to have stimulated discussion, I think not, he has just highlighted for close scrutiny the demise of CILIP as a leader of its professional membership.

Juanita F-J

I honestly am staggered at Bob McKee's post. I thought being an information professional involved keeping up to date, being part of a network, a community of practice. That means using whatever tools are out there to participate in that community - of which Twitter is but one.
Thank you for your response Phil, you say it all. I just hope CILIP listen.

Lyndsay (Rees-Jones)

It's the debate and not that medium that matters to me. That people care enough to raise the issues and air their views is vital. When the dialogue stops we should really start to worry. Thank you for this post Phil. You’ve started a lively debate.
I admit that wearing both a CILIP ‘members hat’ and a ‘staff hat’ can be a challenge for me. I’m often about to react to something when a little voice in my head asks whether what I say will be construed as ‘official’ rather than personal. Something that I need to get over I know – I’ll work harder on it!
Setting up CILIP Communities in 2006 was quite a steep learning curve. We were spending member's money on developing a communications resource and it was important that it be a "member-benefit". If CILIP is going to have a valuable role in the LIS arena it needs members and those members need to get benefit. Finding the balance between creating an open space and one where the wider LIS community can engage can be challenging. People could rightly say “why should I join CILIP when I can get all the ‘bits’ that I need” without paying an annual fee? The pilot period changed initial thinking and we opened up the blogs to everyone. That was 2.5yrs ago and we are currently finalising the platform upgrade. We’ll look at what we can (and should) do to open things up more.

I don't want to appear 'too worthy' - I'd really like to find ways to engage more widely.

nigel gibson

I'm not a librarian but I teach new media to undergrads. I just wanted to say what a great example of the medium your blog post is Phil - a wonderfully web 2.0 way of engaging with and advancing a discussion. I'm using it in classes now!

Great stuff

bob mckee


Just to let you know that I've posted a fairly lengthy piece on my blog this morning reflecting on this discussion. It's called "Yes, let's try that!" because it provides - I hope - a positive response to Phil's shopping list.



Pete Smith

Well, Council is doing something. http://communities.cilip.org.uk/blogs/council/archive/2009/03/04/cilip-open-session-on-how-we-should-use-web2.aspx


Phil, reading this has made my day - as so many people have said above this was a beautifully crafted and well thought out response (which I've just tweeted to my own megre network). About sums up many of my concerns with the way CILIP handles communications. Well done!


Personally, I feel a little concerned about this series of postings. As a "solo" worker in information and research, I'm feeling isolated and would like to use this new technology to try and get some answers, and some co-operation. Trouble is, they didn't exist when I was doing my professional training more years ago than a care to remember and I just plumb don't know how.

I feel worried that Bob has become a "whipping boy" for those with technological nous, and that people like me who would like to get involved in these technologies but don't yet have the experience, are keeping our heads below the parapet in case we get them shot off!

Information about this posting, for example, and the blog from Bob, only came about because I've just had the courage to join JISCmail. In other words, the only people responding are the IT savvy and their responses are unsurprisingly predictable. Everyone else hasn't even heard of what this debate is all about, and yes I agree Bob's own voice wouldn't have been heard either for these people.

At least he tried though. Next time, perhaps he'll think twice considering the size of the lynch mob that's been forming.

Perhaps what is needed is for CILIP to bring everyone up to speed on the advantages of different IT technologies through some free training, perhaps carried out on line, which everyone (not just CILIP members) could participate in. I think that would go a long way to both addressing the concerns of the IT-literate (as reflected in this series of postings) and the fears of the IT-illiterate, who have not felt or been able to respond.


Phil, I totally endorse everything you say. I feel that the CILIP chief execs comments are verging on the sinister,

" a rational approach to management is potentially conflicted by the emotional affiliation of members to their peer group"

I am quite lost for words, but thankfully Phil, you weren't, and your response to this issue is everything I would wish to say, if I hadn't been rendered so speechless!

I am an Library and Information studies postgraduate student and love my work in public libraries. I have brought the benefits of web 2.0 into every assignment I have written so far and attempt to embrace it in my working life. It is demoralising to know that the body that speaks for my profession takes this view.

Frnaces Hendrix

I am so delighted to have read this thread, just passed to me. Like others who have responded I too have been accused of airing Cilip business on an email list, and Bob has fought for years to keep this enclosed, limited and undercover. As some one else has saidi Phil you have summed it up expertly and completely, and as another said we are an information porfession and should be leading from the front, we should be free and open, and any confident and relevant organisation should be able to cope with commetns from members and those interested in the future.I am sure there are staff at Cilip who are capable of working in the 'new' way and would like to.
Time for a change Bob?!


Tim Coates

In the case of public libraries, not only do Ridgmount Street obtain any authority or responsibility they have from the membership of CILIP, but also and more importantly from the wider public who need public libraries. It says that in so many CILIP documents, but does not seem to be reflected in the transparency or activities of the Institute. If CILIP public libraries officials are not open to hearing and understanding discussion and comment from members of the public, how can they have any authority at all?

Authority in most fields comes not from position, but from the respect that is due to good understanding and from wise leadership.

My own view is that the public position of CILIP needs much better communication than it has-- then its members would know what they belong to and why it has public value. Employers of librarians and those actually responsible to the public for the provision of the public library service would know what the profession offers and how. At present the public position of CILIP often bears little serious scrutiny aside from a halo of historic virtue.

Mary Anne Davis

Interesting. I am neither a librarian nor have I ever even heard of Cilip before. However, I see two things at play here- 1) A CEO reaching out into a new world, terrified, but more open than some here give him credit for, (I see he responded). 2) A well articulated call for recognition of the network as what is inevitable. There is no stopping evolution and we are in its grips in a historic speedup. There is room and necessity for openness on all sides of any given organization, institution, discipline or relationship(s) given the speed and impact of communication. Authority is in question. Thank you for this. Somehow, on my breadcrumb journey this morning I stumbled upon your conversation and because of the openness of the network, I am responding and probably being read. Good luck and we all know libraries are destined to be more and more functional spaces. Thank you all for your good work.

Mary Anne Davis

Guess my comment doesn't fit your commnunity?


I gained an MSc in Librarianship in 2007, at great personal expence. I am now in my second professional post, working in digital resources, earning good money.

CILIP membership will cost me £177 a year. I have absolutely no clue why I would want to join. It would only be to make older members of the profession happy. But they will all be gone in 15-20 years anyway!

I network professionally easily through the use of blogs, twitter, Facebook as well as our joint collaborations with other institutions in the area.

I can get all my professional development mentored and paid for through the insitution I work for. I am a member of a Union for legal representation, and all new jobs are published online.

I am being nice here - you really should see how out of touch CILIP is with new librarians. Its a joke.


I work for one of the Bodleian libraries in Oxford, and you can't really get more columns and institutional grandeur than here! And yet, web 2.0 has been embraced enthusiastically by the library services - there is a dedicated working party (with its own wiki!) and many of the major libraries are experimenting with different sites and software to see what works and what doesn't. Surely if the Bodleian can manage this, CILIP can?

Chris Dymond

This debate is nothing really to do with me, (I have a professional interest in social media and an academic interest in institutional regimes, but had never heard of CILIP until I found this discussion (through twitter of course! :-), but for what it's worth the element of Dr McKee's post that stood out for me was the attribution of the quality of sustainability to institutions. I'm not sure too many regime theorists would agree with that. Most regard institutions as a set of learned and reinforced behaviours, and institutions that fail (which happens a lot) tend to be those that are unable (or unwilling) to adapt to new behavioural realities. So the question is always the extent to which institutions promote behavioural standards or adapt to prevalent behavioural standards 'outside' the institution (if that distinction is woth making).

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