On completion of my Chartership, having had such an excellent mentor (a CILIP Mentor of the Year no less!), I knew I wanted to mentor other candidates myself. I completed the CILIP mentor training, which I found really interesting (I particularly welcomed the focus on a coaching approach to mentoring rather than a focus on the CILIP Professional Registration process), and soon found myself with some willing mentees. Everyone works at a different pace, so some of my mentees are taking a longer term approach, but my first mentee submitted her portfolio last month so I thought I’d share my experience as a mentor. 

I knew I wanted to mentor in a similar way to the way I had been mentored myself. I didn’t want to be the sort of mentor who is a task master or keeps people to deadlines – I don’t mind doing an element of this, but predominantly I want to be able to challenge mentees, guide them, and encourage them to develop. Fortunately my mentee was looking for that sort of mentor so it worked well. As I work remotely (I do have an office but a lot of my time is spent away from the office), much of our communication was via email, but we did also meet at key points throughout the process. The meetings were very much led by my mentee, though a week before each meeting I did ask them to complete a few questions in the form of a meeting planning template so that I knew what they wanted to focus on for our meeting. This really helped me, and I think it helped them too. 

We kept our communication quite informal (this was the way we’d agreed it would work best for us), so as well as the formal mentoring, we got to know each other better and share experiences. I learnt a lot from their experiences too so was keen to encourage this. I’m keen to mentor people from different types of work within LIS in future to continue this – the two-way learning process is a useful part of CPD I feel (and can help them with criteria 3 of CILIP Professional Registration on wider professional awareness!).  

We tended to meet in coffee shops, though we did meet once at my office as my mentee wanted to familiarise themselves with the CILIP VLE so I thought it might be useful to do that together. During this session they got access to the VLE, I explained the different sections and what they were for, and we discussed how they may wish to use the Portfolio functionality for their own portfolio. After this session, we communicated via the VLE as well as by email, which I found very useful. My mentee shared their portfolio page with me so whenever they updated it, I received an email alert and I checked in every so often and provided feedback/suggestions via the comment functionality. This was particularly useful during the final stages of the process, and also helped speed the submission process as they had been building it up for a while within the VLE rather than having to add everything in at the end.

During our discussions, I was able to use some of the coaching skills I have learnt to explore my mentee’s career goals, as well as address any barriers they experienced. I used the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) to help them explore different options and decide on a way forward. I found the process incredibly useful, both in terms of practicing my coaching skills, and in ensuring the development ideas came predominantly from the mentee, with me acting as a guide. Hopefully this ensured the development was tailored to them and I think it helped with their motivation and commitment. 

The most rewarding thing for me was observing my mentee develop in confidence during the process. I knew from the beginning that they are an extremely competent professional, though they doubted themselves occasionally. They ended the process far more self-aware and with a much clearer idea of their current abilities and their future plans. I’m not saying this was down to me, but I was pleased to be able to be a part of it and to witness their growth. 

Their portfolio was excellent, and I had no doubt (apart from the tiny but ever present niggle of nerves!) that they would be successful in their application. They have received really positive feedback and I’m so pleased. 

I’d highly recommend being a mentor for CILIP Professional Registration; it’s a really interesting experience and incredibly rewarding to support someone through the process. I very much look forward to continuing to mentor other CILIP Professional Registration candidates.

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

The final stage in the Revalidation process is to put together your CPD log and supporting statement, and submit it. This is all done via the CILIP VLE. If you’ve been recording your CPD throughout the year in the CPD log in CILIP Portfolio (see my post on Recording your CPD), and have your supporting statement written (see my post on Writing your supporting statement) this stage won’t take long at all. Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

There are two parts to CILIP Revalidation; your log of CPD activities, and your supporting statement. The supporting statement is your opportunity to explain and reflect on your CPD activities. You only have 250 words, so you have to be fairly concise. Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

The first part of Revalidation is completing 20 hours of professional development, or CPD (Continuing Professional Development) as it’s commonly referred to. The guidelines suggest that this would be on a roughly annual basis, though it may take slightly longer (or a lot less!). Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

Earlier this year I successfully revalidated my CILIP Chartership. Having been involved in developing the new scheme for CILIP Professional Registration (which incorporates Certification, Chartership, Fellowship, and Revalidation) during my part-time secondment at CILIP last year, I was keen to put what I had learnt into practice and test whether Revalidation was as straight forward as we’d hoped. I spent quite a bit of time examining Revalidation in other professional organisations, and it was evident that the previous version of CILIP Revalidation was much more involved than comparators. The message from member feedback (which also reflected my own personal view) was clear – Revalidation needed to be simplified so that it could be completed on a more regular basis to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to professional development (after all, the C in CPD is for continuing professional development). With that in mind, we set out to make the process less intensive and more relevant to all levels of Professional Registration – Certification, Chartership, and Fellowship (previously the focus had been more as a step up from Chartership).

As I’ve now been through the Revalidation process and have discussed it with a number of people planning to do the same, I thought it might be worthwhile me documenting the processes I used (and intend to continue to use) in case they are useful for others. I’ll therefore be publishing a series of blog posts over the next few days, including:

I’ll be writing about my own experience which relates to revalidating CILIP Chartership, but much of the processes apply to those revalidating CILIP Certification or CILIP Fellowship. If you have any questions, please let me know in the blog comments. I hope you find this series useful.

It’s that time of year again – time to reflect on the activities of the previous 12 months (see 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 posts). Here are some of my highlights from 2012:

2012 highlights in pictures

2012 highlights in pictures

Top: My Emerging Leaders project group with ALA NMRT President (Janel Kinlaw, far left) and Past President (Linda Crook, far right)
Bottom left: CILIP Chartership certificate
Bottom centre: CILIP West Midlands Chair medal
Bottom right: Productivity and time management article

Professionally, one of the main things this year has been CILIP Chartership. I started the process early in the year, submitted my portfolio in August, and discovered I had been successful in October. I found it a really useful process for focusing my energy on developing skills and knowledge in areas I felt were important. It was particularly valuable in helping me prioritise tasks and projects, and having to do this has taught me a lot about time management and working towards goals. Throughout the Chartership process, I focused on research skills, formal communication, networking, presenting, event organisation, project management, delegating and leadership. Two of the other big things this year has involved are linked to leadership; ALA Emerging Leaders and chairing committees.

Being part of the American Library Association Emerging Leaders program was a truly incredible experience and I still can’t quite believe that I got to do it. I really enjoyed the project I was assigned to, I loved the enthusiasm and energy from all the Emerging Leaders and especially during our training days at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual, and I made some truly fantastic friends. It also led to me getting more involved in ALA work, particularly in NMRT (New Members Round Table) where I now chair the Online Discussion Forum committee.

I’ve also been chair of CILIP West Midlands this year. It’s been an interesting challenge and one that has taught me a lot. During the three years I have been on the CILIP West Midlands committee I’ve been involved in trying new things and have been really proud of what we have achieved (e.g. held the first election hustings, continued to support event amplification for those who cannot attend events, organised informal social to complement formal training events). My term comes to an end at the end of the year (i.e. in a few hours!) and I feel ready to pass the baton on; there are a number of new committee members who I’m sure will bring some fresh ideas to the mix as well as some long standing committee members who know the ins and outs which help the committee function effectively.

This year I also developed a training workshop, and followed it up with an article for CILIP Update, on time management and productivity. It’s an area I’ve been interested in for a while and I’ve really enjoyed being able to put what I’ve learnt into developing something to help others. I’m looking forward to continuing this with my CILIP Update column next year.

My favourite cocktails of 2012

My favourite cocktails of 2012

2012 has been an interesting year and has resulted in a lot of personal reflection and development. I feel like I’m finding my place and learning what it is that makes me happy. Most importantly, I’m achieving a balance that suits me. I’ve completed the qualifications I set myself the challenge of gaining when I entered the profession in 2005, so now I can focus on other things – some covering other related professional interests, others covering different areas of my life. I’m really looking forward to 2013, I’ve been assured by both family and friends that it’s going to be a good year – I hope they’re right! Cheers everyone, here’s to 2013 🙂

As I’ve now successfully completed my CILIP Chartership, I won’t be scheduling any more chartership chats as they’ve served their purpose for me. Since submitting my portfolio, I’ve had a few people ask me when the next one will be – it can be whenever you want one! I wanted to ensure people knew how to set one up so that going forward, candidates can continue to schedule these chats if they find them useful.

Twitter icon from Iconfinder

Twitter icon from Iconfinder

Why #chartership chat?

We all learn in different ways, and seek support from different methods. For me, chartership chat on Twitter had the following benefits:

  • Enabled me to share my ideas and get advice from others (including other candidates as well as mentors)
  • Helped motivate me to keep going
  • Gave me regular time points to check in which I used as mini deadlines
  • Gave me dedicated time to both discuss chartership and work on it (I often worked on something in the background whilst chatting)

Think you need something similar to help you with chartership? It’s really easy to organise…

Organising the chat

The following stages are all you need to do to organise a #chartership chat on Twitter:

  1. Set a time and date that you know you’ll be able to make (and preferably at least one other person, it’s usually helpful to propose it on Twitter using the #chartership tag to see if others can make it then)
  2. Publicise the chat – via Twitter, the LIS-CILIP-REG mailing list, and any other methods you think would be useful
  3. Send reminders closer to the date (e.g. the day before or the morning of the day)
  4. Be there at the time, and start tweeting using the #chartership chat. Keep an eye on other tweets using the hashtag, ask questions, answer any if you can, offer support, and help each other work to your deadlines

Optional: you might want to archive the tweets and/or write up the chat and record details on the Chartership Chat page on the CILIP Quals wiki. You may want to host a conversation about a specific topic rather than general chat – if so just make this clear in the publicity.

Hope this information is useful – I found it really useful in keeping me on track and providing me with ideas to help me with my chartership – both the process whilst working on my areas of development, through reflection, and when it came to writing up the portfolio. Also of course it could be another potential piece of evidence!

If you’re working on chartership at the moment you may also be interested in joining in with #chapowrimo (Chartership portfolio writing month) which is encouraging people to do a little bit on chartership each day in November. See #chapowrimo tweets and Emma, Niamh and Katie’s blog posts for more information.

OK, I’ve not actually become Scottish (though the name does have quite a nice ring to it!). In actual fact the capitalisation should really be MCLIP – I recently received confirmation that I have passed my CILIP Chartership. This now means I’m a bona fide chartered information professional and have therefore achieved the goal I set out to when I declared at my graduate trainee interview in August 2005 that I wanted to study for my MSc in Library and Information Studies and then go on to charter (hmm, maybe I do plan things after all!).

I posted earlier some initial reflections on the process, and still feel the same. I did find the process incredibly useful in terms of focusing my development. I’ve continued to update my PPDP, CV, and other information relating to professional development on a monthly basis, and I’m finding this really useful. I’ve made some decisions which will change my professional development activities going forward (more to come on this soon) and I think chartership has really helped in that respect as it’s encouraged me to be more reflective and to take action based on where I’m at and where I’d like to be in the future. I have no grand master plan, but I’m in a much better place now to know what I have already achieved and what I still hope to achieve, as well as understanding what I really enjoy doing.

I found it really useful to look over other peoples’ portfolios whilst I was working on mine, so I thought I would share mine for anyone who would like a look. I’d recommend taking a look at a variety of portfolios to get some ideas for structure and format, but essentially each one will be different and may well not work for your situation. That’s absolutely fine, just go with whatever you find works best for you. Anyway, here’s my final portfolio:

Jo Alcock - Chartership Portfolio

Jo Alcock – Chartership Portfolio

If you’re working on chartership and could do with some moral support or have questions to ask, remember to use the LIS-CILIP-REG mailing list, and if you’re a tweeter you can ask questions on there using the #chartership tag – a number of us are keeping an eye on the tweets to help people out. There’s also a #chartership chat organised for this week –  just set a saved search and start tweeting using the hashtag from 8pm on Thursday 25th October. Good luck!

I’ve recently submitted my CILIP Chartership portfolio and thought it would be worthwhile to share my experiences – what I liked, what I disliked, what I plan to continue, and my advice to others.

First a brief overview of my process:

October 2011 – initial investigation into Chartership (discussions on Twitter and in person), found a mentor willing to mentor me virtually.
November 2011 – attended a one day Chartership course hosted by CILIP Career Development Group West Midlands.
December 2011 – registered for Chartership and set up wiki for progress reporting and mentor communication. Created first version of PPDP (Personal Professional Development Plan).
January-August 2012 – worked towards PPDP objectives, recording on wiki and in Google Docs.
April 2012 – meeting with mentor, revisited PPDP.
June 2012 – assessed overall progress and drafted evaluative statement in bullet point format.
July 2012 – focused on development areas that still needed additional activities and evidence.
August 2012 – produced final evidence list, evaluative statement, and portfolio. Submitted (in electronic format on CDs) on 28th August.


What I liked

  • Ability to tailor to my own development needs
  • Can be completed by anyone in LIS sector – don’t need to be working in a traditional librarian role
  • Virtual mentor relationship – I really liked the regular checks and support/encouragement (plus my mentor sent gifts too!)
  • Being able to share experiences and ideas via Twitter (particularly through #chartership chat)
  • Support from others who have been through the Chartership process or are current mentors
  • Ability to bring together different strands of professional development (work-based training, committee work, working groups etc.)

What I disliked

  • Lack of clarity on expectations from CILIP, particularly with regards to paperwork required during the Chartership process
  • Air of mystery around Chartership – so many people seem to think it’s far more complicated than it is and this put me off at first (but thankfully this great blog post helped immensely!)
  • Lack of guidance in terms of whether you are eligible to apply and what requirements you must meet

What I plan to continue

A number of processes I adopted during Chartership would be useful to continue in order to keep an ongoing record of my professional development, so I have scheduled these into my task list.

  • Using iDoneThis to add any achievements of the day (not every day, just when I think I have achieved something I may want to reflect on or use in future portfolios/CV)
  • Using a PPDP in Google Docs for prioritising professional development – before Chartership my professional development activities weren’t very focused, and I found myself taking too much on. Having a PPDP helped me focus and I plan to continue using it
  • Regularly updating record of professional development activities – during Chartership I did this fortnightly, going forward I plan to do it monthly including updating my list of events attended/organised, presentations, publications and CV

Advice to others

  • Record everything you do as you go along – otherwise collating it at the end could be time consuming
  • Spend time planning your PPDP as it will be a really useful tool if relevant to your skills, current role, and future opportunities (though don’t spend months on it, it’s a living document so doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • Draft your evaluative statement in bullet point format before writing narrative – this will give you an idea of whether you have enough scope in the word count to include everything you think you want to (1000 words isn’t much at all!)
  • Remember it’s quality over quantity – my portfolio ended up longer than I’d hoped for (32 pieces of evidence), but that was after some major culls and taking out some evidence I was sure I would include
  • Use hyperlinks within your document if you’re submitting electronically to make it easier for markers (though it’s probably best to add these at the end when you know the structure of the portfolio)
  • Chartership is a very personal process – your mentor and other candidates can offer advice, but no two will be the same (so don’t worry if yours is seeming different to others)
  • If you hit a hurdle, don’t be afraid to ask for help – ask your mentor, other candidates, or your professional network. The LIS-CILIP-REG mailing list is useful, as is the #chartership tag on Twitter (or of course there are face to face interactions too!)

What next?

I should get the outcome of my application in 2-6 months time. In the meantime I’m going to continue using the PPDP as a living document to guide my professional development activities. My main focus at the moment is committee work – I’m chairing CILIP West Midlands and ALA New Members Round Table Online Discussion Forum Committee. I also have a number of articles I’d like to write in the next year or so.

I’ve been inspired by my mentor, and if I am successful in my Chartership application I’d like to go on to become a mentor in future. I find it rewarding to offer support to new professionals and would like to continue doing so through mentoring. It’s a way of paying it forward really – I’m so thankful to both formal and informal mentors who have helped me, and would like to do the same for others. This blog post is another way of doing that – I hope that by recording reflections on my own process it may help others. I’ll still be keeping an eye on the #chartership tag on Twitter too so please feel free to ask any questions in the comments on this post or on Twitter (mention @joeyanne to make sure I spot it).

I’ve always been interested in knowing more about the governance of professional organisations such as Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and American Library Association (ALA). I like to know how decisions are made and the structure of the organisation so that I can work out where I best fit and how I can help move things forward. I’ve been involved in the following ways so far to help me begin to get my head around this:

  • Organised and chaired the first CILIP Election Hustings in November 2010 (on behalf of CILIP West Midlands)
  • Attended CILIP AGM 2011
  • Been involved in committee work for CILIP (West Midlands branch and CDG West Midlands) and ALA (NMRT-ASCLA liaison and NMRT Online Discussion Forum)
  • ALA Emerging Leaders program (where the training included information about ALA and its structure, and we had opportunities to talk to ALA leaders)
  • Attended ALA Council meeting

I’m in a relatively unique situation in that I have been involved with both CILIP and ALA and I’m beginning to grasp the similarities and differences (in terms of governance) which I hope this post will highlight.

NB: This post focuses on the top level decision making, much of which I have not been directly involved in. There may be inaccuracies, please feel free to correct anything by leaving a comment.

CILIP governance

CILIP logo

CILIP logo

CILIP is a relatively simple organisation (when compared to ALA anyway!), though it took me a while to figure out its structure and what that means for members. As a membership organisation, many of the people who do CILIP work are members (i.e. volunteers). CILIP do also employ staff, and these people are predominantly based in CILIP Headquarters in London (though there are also staff in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Decision making for CILIP happens at Council. There are 12 elected members of CILIP Council, each of whom serve for a 3 year term. 4 new people join each year and are voted in by members (unless there are only 4 people interested in joining Council). Any CILIP member can stand for Council. Elections happen during Oct-Nov (by postal vote) and terms run in calendar years. Also on Council are representatives from key stakeholders such as SCONUL and Society of Chief Librarians.

Council meetings happen four times a year, and each have a closed part and an open part of the meeting. All CILIP members can view the papers for the meeting and from the meeting (unless there are confidentiality issues), and members can observe the open part of the Council meeting. Council members select a chair each year and the Chair of Council chairs these meetings (John Dolan is Chair of Council this year). Also attending the meetings are the CILIP President (and past president and vice president) and CILIP CEO, though these do not have voting powers on decisions at Council. Other CILIP staff and members are invited to meetings to join specific discussions or give updates on progress.

Once a decision is made at Council, if follow up work is needed responsibility is assigned (often to CILIP staff) and the work can begin. CILIP have a number of projects running at the moment and are using the PRINCE2 project management methodology so highlight reports for each project are submitted to the relevant Council meetings to keep everyone updated (this is useful for members too as we can check out these papers from the CILIP website).

Any member can propose an item for CILIP Council – I have done this when we wanted to change the name of the branch from CILIP West Midland to CILIP West Midlands (yes, decisions like that have to go to Council!). Council trustees are ultimately accountable for CILIP as a charity, so it’s a lot of responsibility to take on.

The CILIP President role is more one of advocacy and member communication. It’s the President who is more likely to speak at events, visit workplaces, and spend time with members (and I’m sure this member communication is often fed directly into Council discussions). The way I see it, the President role is a front-facing role (both to members and the general public) whereas the Council role is more the back of house type work.

Useful links:

ALA Governance

ALA logo

ALA logo

So what about ALA? Well, that’s a much larger organisation (to give an idea of the scale, the ALA Annual Conference this year had 20, 134 attendees). In a similar way to CILIP, much of the committee work is done by members who volunteer their time for the organisation, though again ALA itself also employ staff for certain roles.

ALA also have a Council where decisions are made, though they have 184 members (according to the 2012-13 listing of all Councillors) so much larger than CILIP, which presents challenges. ALA Council meet at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual conferences and communicate virtually between. Again, much of the meeting is open to observers so I attended one of the Council meetings at ALA Annual in June.

I don’t think ALA Council has a chair as such; the meetings are chaired by the ALA President. Council consists of some members representing ALA divisions and round tables, and some Councillors-at-large (who represent the whole membership). Members for Council (through both routes) are elected around March each year (mainly via online voting) and begin terms on July 1st (after ALA Annual Conference). Terms last for three years. Division and round table members vote for any officer positions of their respective division/round table (e.g. president-elect, secretary, treasurer, directors) as well as the Councillor position who will represent the views of that division or round table at Council. At-large Councillors are voted for by all ALA members (not members of specific groups) and represent the views of members. They’re the ones you can contact if you have an opinion you would like to be voiced at Council level (unless it is a view of one of your groups in which it will go through your division/round table Councillor). All divisions have a Councillor, but not all round tables have a dedicated Councillor (due to their size). All round tables will be involved in electing a Councillor to represent their views, however this Councillor may represent a number of smaller round tables.

ALA also have an Executive Board, consisting of the president, president-elect, immediate past president, treasurer, executive director and eight members of Council (elected by Council to serve on the Executive Board). Officers do not vote unless there is a tie (voting powers lie within Council members of Executive Board).

The Executive Board acts for Council in the administration of established policies and programs and is the body that manages within this context the affairs of the Association, delegating management of day-to-day operation to the Association’s executive director.


ALA President has a similar role to CILIP President, again with a focus on advocacy and member communication.

As with CILIP, decisions are made by ALA Council (or the Executive Board), and then any work required is commissioned – responsibility usually lies with ALA staff, though may also be via member volunteers. ALA also have Committees supporting specific initiatives and these sit underneath Council rather than within a specific division/round table.

At ALA Council

At ALA Council (tables at front for Council, chairs at back for observers)

Any member can propose an item for ALA Council, or can feed their views on a certain topic to their division/round table Councillor, or any of the Councillors-at-large who can add this to the discussion during the Council meeting (members may observe, but may not participate). The way Councillors take their turn to speak at ALA Council was fascinating. There are a number of microphones amongst the Council members, and if they want to speak they stand behind a microphone. The President manages the speakers by keeping an eye on who got to the microphone first and ensuring people all get a fair turn. I think each person is limited to a certain time period to speak too (though I’m not sure what that is!).

Each Council member receives all the papers required for the meeting (retrieved from a big crate) and have one sheet which they use to note their vote. Voting is done by show of hands, though also recorded for records.  This is all coded and the President makes it clear where to mark your vote for each item on the meeting. These votes are later shared with membership alongside attendance.

Crates with papers for ALA Council

Crates with papers for ALA Council

Useful links:

What have I learnt?

I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve found these experiences really interesting in helping me understand the way these organisations work and how decisions are made. Both CILIP and ALA are both member organisations and although there are differences (largely due to size), both are very much centred around the members and their needs. Neither are dictatorship organisations – all members have a voice and can feed into any discussions. That’s not to say that the view the organisation takes on something is one you’ll always agree with, but as a member you have a right to express your opinion and make it known, which may sometimes change that stance. That also means as a member you take on some of the responsibility for the organisation. It’s your responsibility to vote in elections for the people you think can represent our views, and it’s your responsibility to feed into discussions (via Councillors, groups, or directly).

I have found the combination of informal and formal quite striking, and I think this is an issue both organisations are tackling as they are stuck between the rigid rules and regulations of the past and the desire to move towards a more flexible, proactive organisation of the future. For example, at ALA Council the format of the meeting, the voting process and the way decisions are made is formal (using Sturgis code of parliamentary procedure), however Council members aren’t seated all the time (meetings are usually quite long, so there are drinks machines) and many of the members of Council are very approachable and either came over to me in the observer’s area whilst they were getting a drink or after the meeting and were very willing to answer questions I had about Council. I came out of that Council meeting with the feeling that although ALA Council is known as ‘Big ALA’ it is actually not as scary as it sounds and members of Council are very approachable and willing to answer questions or feed things in on your behalf. I found a similar thing at the CILIP AGM too, though haven’t had the opportunity to observe a CILIP Council meeting. In both organisations, people serve on Council because they want to help change things for the better and respond to members’ needs. This level of approachability was a very welcome discovery and something I hope other members are aware of.

What next?

I’ll certainly be continuing to be involved in both ALA and CILIP in under to be well-informed to enable me to make a contribution as a member. I have always voted in elections and will continue to do so, and will also continue to read the papers associated with Council meetings (CILIP papers here and ALA papers here).

I’ll also be continuing to support CILIP and ALA through committee work. I’m currently chairing two committees, one for CILIP and one for ALA, and I hope to be able to ensure the work of these committees ties into the strategic plans of both organisations.

If you are a member of CILIP or ALA (or any other professional organisation), I’d urge you to spend a bit of time understanding more about the organisation, how it is structured, how decisions are made, and your role as a member. Vote in the elections. Keep an eye on the papers both before meetings and the decisions after meetings. If you have a comment/question, contact a Councillor. If you have the opportunity to observe a Council meeting (or any other meeting within the organisation), do it. I have found it incredibly beneficial to do so, though appreciate not everyone is able to so I hope some of the information in this post (though possibly not entirely accurate) might help introduce others to the way these organisations work.

ALA and CILIP both face criticism from members and non-members, and I’m sure some of that is well justified, but if you’re a member and want to change the way the organisation is, learn more about why it is the way it is and if you still feel it should be changed, make your voice is heard via the appropriate channel(s). And as the ALA Think Tank motto goes, make it happen!