The Future of the Profession - Christine Tate
Nick Poole's visit to MMU 5th March 2018
At the start of March CILIP NW were invited to attend a workshop on 'The Future of the Library and Information Profession' run by Nick Poole (the Chief Executive of CILIP).
It was an event that had been arranged by Geoff Walton, a senior lecturer on the MA in Library and Information Management, for the benefit of the students. Several members of CILIP NW attended to take part in the discussions alongside a number of other library and information professionals.
The event started with Nick addressing the students and outlining how this is our time: our skills and values are needed to meet the challenges of the post-truth society we live in. We can help to meet the challenges of literacy, ethics and learning. Nick reinforced this message by referencing a recent YouGov poll commissioned by CILIP that found that 66% of those surveyed agreed that it is now harder than ever to find trustworthy information. The same poll found that 84% agreed that they trust information more when it is given by a professional and that librarians were in the top five trusted professional groups out of the 10 tested, with 46% of adults saying that we would provide trustworthy information.
Nick then moved on to explain that CILIP has two aims:
1. To help promote professional ethics such as concern for the public good in all professional matters and a commitment to the defence of access to information,
2. To help build and support the careers of library and information professionals.
We make up an estimated workforce of around 87,000. We are no longer defined by our title, with job titles ranging from Librarians to Knowledge Managers, Information Architects and Data Managers. We are embedded in every sector but have a sense of identity as we share the same values.
Nick shared the results of the Workforce Mapping research that CILIP commissioned in 2014. This demonstrated that in the next 10-15 years 45% of the profession will reach retirement age. To prepare the profession for this, it is vital that those who currently occupy these positions 'put down ladders' to help others up. They must encourage new professionals and help them to develop the skills they need. Other areas identified as needing attention were the the gender pay gap and the lack of ethnic diversity in the profession. Nick said that CILIP was working on these issues and taking positive steps such as the Equality and Diversity Action Plan.
CILIP has an action plan that is guiding its focus between now and 2020. It wants to secure the future of our profession by tackling the challenges such as the economic crisis, the channel shift to digital and data, the inertia and victimhood that has been present. CILIP is going to achieve its goals by using its lack of government funding to allow it to challenge government policy, to start developing the workforce now so it will be ready once the economy has recovered, to encourage the development of talent and for employers to create roles and invest in training.
Nick then outlined a number of issues affecting the sector and how CILIP was responding to them. Issues covered included the closure of public libraries and the lack of support for school libraries. This led to contributions from the attendees that, as a profession, we can be prone to self-deprecation. We may not be good at boasting about what we do but CILIP can do this for us by helping to support leaders in the profession who can advocate for the sector and challenge incorrect assumptions.
Following the talk, the attendees were then invited to take part in a structured discussion regarding professionalism. Whether we thought we should be a professional (the answer was a resounding yes!) and what qualities we associated with a professional. The final discussion covered what skills we thought were needed by information professionals today.
I'd like to thank Geoff Walton for inviting the committee to attend and Nick Poole for running the workshop. It was a great talk and discussion to be involved in. As the attendees were a mix of students, committee members, members of academic staff from the information school, and library and information professionals from around Manchester, it led to a diverse discussion that covered a wide range of perspectives.
CILIP Ethics Review: https://archive.cilip.org.uk/research/topics/ethics-review
Equalities and Diversity Action Plan: https://archive.cilip.org.uk/research/topics/equalities
Trusted Professionals: https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/trusted
Workforce Mapping: https://archive.cilip.org.uk/about/projects-reviews/workforce-mapping
Images: photograph taken by Geoff Walton, used with permission.