2017 in review and a look ahead
2017 was all about building our strength as a community. Looking back over the last year and ahead to 2018 it's clear that it has never been more important to unite as a sector. At the beginning of 2017 we knew we had one job: to get on with securing a bright future for the library and information sector, powered by your views in our Action Plan. So now that 2017 is nearly at an end, what progress have we made putting “information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society”?
Standing up for our profession
Throughout the year we’ve been advocating for the importance of publicly funded library services. Work that started as the My Library By Right campaign continues today - through countless interviews on the radio up and down the country, appearances on BBC, ITV and Made in Cardiff news, in our many statements and comments speaking out about libraries in the media, in our letters to Councils and library leaders, and in our leadership role to speak out and act on behalf of our profession.
We’ve also showcased the variety and capacity of our workforce. We pooled our expertise with CILIP Health Libraries Group and Health Education England to create A Million Decisions, a powerful campaign that raised awareness of the value of library and information professionals in the NHS and wider healthcare sector. We saw parallel campaigns in Scotland and Ireland and increased advocacy from the workforce promoting their expertise and value.
This year’s snap election was a surprise to most of us, and in response we quickly launched our Facts Matter campaign. With huge support from members we demonstrated that facts and evidence have never been more important, or more under threat, in our democracy. Candidates from all major parties across the UK signed up to our pledge to run evidence-based campaigns. We also worked with the Electoral Commission to help libraries in all sectors promote voter registration.
Last week, as the government published its Budget, we combined our influence with the expertise of our Board members and school librarians to highlight the shocking decline in school libraries, and to demonstrate the role of school librarians in the literacy of our nation and the wellbeing and achievement of the upcoming generation. A letter to Education Minister Justine Greening from Immediate Past President Dawn Finch was supported by over 200 authors and generated significant media coverage. We’ll keep up the pressure by working with Parliamentarians and the media to highlight the value of school libraries and librarians to skills, literacy and life-chances.
As part of our work to make sure publicly funded libraries are supported and recognised we will continue lobbying the Government to provide adequate funding for local authorities in England through the Local Government Finance Settlement, and to establish a cross-party commission to tackle the youth literacy crisis – which should draw on expertise and initiatives across the UK.
Building strong partnerships
We extend our reach and influence by growing our connections. 2017 has been a key time in shaping our long-term development through partnership and collaboration.
We’ve worked closely this year with KPMG, Eden Smith, the Local Government Association, Arts Council England, Carnegie UK Trust, Society of Chief Librarians, SCONUL, BBC, The British Library, The National Archives, Chartered Management Institute and many others.
With the defence and advancement of human rights at the heart of our ethics as a profession we’re proud to have an ongoing partnership with Amnesty International UK to promote understanding of human rights to children and young people.
We recently held a Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group roundtable at Westminster hosted by Gill Furniss MP and attended by a broad cross section of partners and supporters to consider the library of the future.
For 2018 we’ll look to strengthen these ties and put in place new ones that will help our ambitions to develop and diversify the workforce, improve the library and information environment and plan for the future.
Working as a community
Our community are spread around the UK and across the globe and we are proud to reflect this. Our colleagues across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are brilliant advocates for you and your work across the UK, supporting learning, development and networking . Our Member Networks have done an amazing job celebrating people and initiatives through awards, providing opportunities for CPD, running events and keeping everyone up to date with latest developments.
As ever, we remain active in international matters. In 2017 we’ve worked with EBLIDA and participated in the ILFA Global Vision. CILIP addressed the IFLA Government Libraries Section at the 2017 World Library and Information Congress in Wroclaw, where we stressed the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals for the library and information community.
Raising our political profile and influence
I got up close to three of the main UK political parties on the party conference trail this autumn. I was there to meet policymakers and to talk about libraries, literacy and skills. In the process I found out a lot about their current concerns and how libraries and the knowledge community can help address them.
We’ll keep building on political progress made this year. From meeting with the Education Minister to talk education and school libraries, to encouraging the Libraries Minister, Peers and key Government departments to make positive interventions on behalf of the sector, we will continue to brief, work with and lobby Parliamentarians in 2018.
Gathering public support
2017 has also been an effort to gather public support. Through our 80th anniversary programme for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals we have been able to raise our profile among new consumer audiences through articles in the Metro newspaper, Hello magazine and through publicity material in schools, libraries and bookshops and shared on social media.
We worked with partners and libraries across the country to run the first-ever Libraries Week - a successful campaign for the public to “discover something new” at their library. Our poster campaign continues to reach out to the public and we were delighted to add poet Jacob Sam La Rose to the family of library supporters in 2017.
A more open, more inclusive CILIP
Finally, 2017 has been a year of change. We have a new brand and identity which is clear, contemporary and focused on celebrating the community of library, information and knowledge professionals CILIP represents. We’ve started addressing the significant diversity issues faced by CILIP and the sector through our Diversity and Equalities Strategy. Chair of Action Aid Margaret Casely-Hayford is Chairing an independent diversity review of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards, and we will publish an interim report with progress this week.
We’ve rolled out a new website and a new membership model with greater membership benefits. With a more affordable, open and inclusive approach there has never been a better time to be part of your profession.
These changes will help us to open up our profession to be more inclusive, help you to future proof your skills, help us grow our membership and build our influence. We'll lead on shaping the agenda to create more value and opportunities for library and information professionals. We have a dedicated, professional team of people here at CILIP who are all committed to making a bright future happen.
Our sector needs and deserves a modern, effective, influential professional association and that is what we are delivering. Thank you for helping to make it happen!