As a tangent on a CILIP Chartership reflection I started writing this list. Did you know that CILIP has 1700 volunteers doing 55,000 hours of work a year? Here’s my reasons for and against why you should join them!
1) You get to meet a lot of people…
In my various roles I’ve attended small local events and big national ones and I’ve met loads of people and had lots of different conversations with them. I’m a people person, I love doing this! Usually the conversation is library/work related (especially for conferences and workshops etc) but sometimes it isn’t and I enjoy this networking opportunity. I don’t always feel like I make the most of them all the time but sometimes I do, like when I organised a look around the new library in Telford: I met the person I needed to arrange it with at the CILIP AGM a few months beforehand!
2) …from lots of different sectors of librarianship.
Naturally some events are going to attract a specific type of librarian (for example the Librarians as Teachers events I’ve organised mostly attract academic and FE/HE librarians) but some are open to everyone and with a bit confidence you can find out about their sector. Most of what I know about Law Librarians came from a conversation with one at a CILIP AGM.
3) Visit other libraries
Maybe you’re like me and you just like seeing what other libraries look like, and maybe you want new ideas for layouts/displays/seating arrangements, but because most of our events are hosted in other libraries you get a chance to explore a wide range of them when attending and hosting events. Some events are even put on with this express purpose (see 1 above!)
4) Learn a range of skills
Want experience handling money? Be a treasurer (or start small and run the account for an event!) Want experience with Social Media? With event organising? Chairing a meeting? Join a committee! You can start small, chair one meeting when the Committee Chair can’t make it. Organise a small one-off networking event. Run the Social Media account(s) for a day because you’re at the conference anyway. Committee work is a great way to pick up new skills, brush up rusty ones or just do something for the love of it!
5) Improve your juggling skills!
I learnt this one the hard way, but juggling non-work commitments on top of work ones takes a little getting used to! Thankfully most of the tasks on a committee are flexible, and don’t take up too much time in one go.
1) Attending meetings
I always feel like this is the biggest hurdle for some people joining committees, and as one of the biggest commitments to the committee I can see why. Some bosses are less flexible about their staff attending on ‘work’ time, combine this with travel or childcare issues and sometimes I wonder why we bother trying to have physical meetings at all! But modern technology makes it easier to be on the committee even when you can’t attend meetings in person. The West Midlands committee have enough Academic Librarians on it to have been able to set up a JiscMail mailing list just for committee members (other emailing systems are available!), and we have a lot of discussion on it some weeks! We’ve also experimented with Skype meetings. When we have physical meetings we alternate the time of our meetings between daytime and evening so that everyone can attend at least two out of four meetings a year, and our travel expenses are paid by the committee, so you don’t need to shell out for these either!
2) Not having enough time
Some people genuinely don’t have a lot of time spare, I understand that (and some weeks I am that!) but it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute! A lot of roles lend themselves to job sharing (the previous CSO in the West Midlands was job shared) or even be a committee member ‘without portfolio’: which is just the posh term for being a committee member without a designated job/officer role. It means you can pick up tasks and odd jobs when you can, and still have a say in what goes on with the committee regarding bigger issues and events.
TLDR: Join a CILIP committee! You’ll get more out of it than you expect!
I have genuinely loved working on CILIP Committees, yes it’s hard work, but in my experience all the most rewarding tasks are! They are also fun! I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life (and library sectors!) and while organising events can be hard work, it’s always great to see them go off as planned and to hear how much people appreciate it.