I recently attended my first CILIP AGM. I helped organise the CILIP West Midlands AGM earlier this year but this was a much more formal affair. I learnt a lot about CILIP and its governance, so thought I’d reflect on my experience and share my thoughts (well, actually it was my soon-to-be mentor for CILIP Chartership who prodded me to record my thoughts and gave me some starter questions whilst it’s still fresh in my mind).
Why did I attend the AGM?
I’m involved in a number of different CILIP activities and a member of my local branch committee and local Career Development Group committee. Despite this, I still feel I have a lot to learn about CILIP as an organisation, including more about its current situation and its strategic aims. As a committee member, I feel I ought to know where the organisation is headed to ensure our branch and group activities are aligned to the organisation’s aims. I thought the AGM would be an ideal opportunity to learn more about this as well as meet some of the people involved.
What did I learn there?
I learnt a heck of a lot! Not only did I learn about the current situation and aims for the future, I learnt more about the structure and governance of CILIP, and experienced my first formal AGM. I also gained some new contacts, and strengthened connections with others.
- CILIP’s current situation and aims for the future – I’d been involved in the Defining our Professional Future project both by completing the survey and attending a focus group, and I’m really pleased to learn that the outcomes of this have been used to inform the future structure and activities of the organisation. The main key areas for development are growing membership (20,000 by 2020); advocacy and campaigning; developing powerful policy messages; linking local, national and global professional networks; delivering professional skills that society needs; building a sustainable organisation that provides great value for members.
- CILIP’s structure and governance – having spoken to a couple of Council members and the Vice President, I knew a little about how decisions are made within CILIP, but I hadn’t realised just how complex it is. Isobel Hood, chair of CILIP Council, did an excellent job chairing the AGM and it provided just a brief insight into how intensive being a member of CILIP Council can be. Considering this is a voluntary position that many people do on top of other jobs and commitments, they really do deserve great recognition for their work. Although I knew Council were the ones responsible for steering CILIP, I hadn’t quite realised how important they were (I had for example thought that Annie Mauger, CEO, would chair the AGM).
- Formal AGM procedures – this was my first formal AGM, so I learnt a lot about the proceedings including for example the fact that motions must be raised in advance of the meeting if it is something the members need to vote on, but that any member can raise a motion. I also learnt that at least 50 members must be present for it to be valid (I would hope that many people could attend each year, but it does raise questions particularly for the future about whether members watching virtually and voting online would still count towards this quota). I made a few mistakes with voting – I abstained from approving the previous year’s meeting as I hadn’t attended, but I then realised that you could vote to approve them even if you weren’t there (though I do find this a little strange and I’m not sure its something I feel totally comfortable with). Some parts of the meeting were closed, whilst some encouraged discussion (as I imagine is typical, the issue of subscription fees raised the most interest). I didn’t dare volunteer to speak this time, but at least I know now how to and I know how to raise a motion before the AGM if I want something to be discussed.
- Networking – it’s often the chatting outside the event that you get a lot of value from, and this was certainly true of this event. I met Annie Mauger (who was just as lovely in real life as she seems online), a number of CILIP Trustees, CILIP staff, and other CILIP activists.
How will what I learnt help me/my service provision in future?
It will definitely help my work as part of CILIP West Midlands committee – CILIP is a complex organisation and the more I know about it, the better equipped I am to support the local branch. I really enjoy working on the branch committee and although there’s not many of us involved, I’m really proud of the work we do. There’s always room for improvement though, and it’s incredibly useful to know more about the CILIP strategy so that I can ensure our branch activities align to that.
It’s also always good to attend events to understand more about the profession and chat to people about the work Evidence Base does. I’m keen to ensure the research we do at Evidence Base can be applied to support practitioners, and I’m conscious that as I’m no longer strictly speaking a librarian in my day job, it’s crucial to gather information from practitioners whenever I can. Twitter is a really useful avenue for this, but nothing beats face to face conversations.
I always try to keep up-to-date on CILIP activities by reading (or at least glancing through!) documents on the members area on the CILIP website before meetings. Although an AGM isn’t exactly the most fun event you can attend, I really did learn a lot and definitely intend to continue to keep up-to-date and attend future AGMs. I’ve made sure I’m subscribed to CILIP Matters: the CILIP Council blog so I receive RSS updates from Council meetings, and I’d like to observe a Council meeting in future so will keep an eye out for an appropriate date. I’d strongly recommend attending an AGM or Council meeting to all CILIP Chartership candidates (and all CILIP members to be honest!).