Branch and Group workshop at CILIP

2 03 2011

I’ve got a list as long as a long thing about stuff that I want to blog about but just never seem to get round to it for one reason or another, mainly just because I’m a bit crap I think. Anyway, high on the priority list is the this stuff about the future of the branches and groups. Representatives attended a workshop at CILIP, with the aim of figuring a way to change how the branches and groups work.

Just for a bit of background; representatives were sent the agenda for the day CILIP Workshop for Branches and Groups It was super important to get the opinions of as many of the South East branch members so I could actually represent their views on the day.

A number of people responded to the three main discussion points for the day:

  • What is the branch and group network for?
  • How do the activities align with ambition?
  • Developing a new framework for working together.

Here are the notes I made from the discussions that took place around these main points Branch and group workshop Luckily CILIP Wales’ and fellow tweeter Mandy Powell was there to make sure all the discussions were noted down. It was lovely to meet her in real life, as well as Amanda Poulton who I also keep up to date with on Twitter.

So, I circulated the main discussion points to the members of the committee of the South East Branch and to members of the sub branches so that I could actually represent their views on the day and number of people responded. It was important to me to get their views across.

I also just wanted to note down a few thoughts I had about how the discussions went and the general feelings that came across throughout the day.
CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger opened the day with a short presentation about what our discussion points were and the kind of thing that we are working towards; a new way of working for the branches and groups.

We were in groups of a mixture of representatives from branches and special interest groups. First up for discussion – what are the branches and groups for?

What became apparent from these discussions is that there is a lot of crossover in the purpose and the aims of the branches and groups. Very broadly speaking it was seen that the branches provided opportunities for anyone, regardless of sector/role etc,  where as the  groups were focused much more on a specific aspect of information work or a specific factor. However the things on offer, like networking opportunities, professional development opportunities remain pretty much the same across the branches and the groups.

Discussions were active and people had many points to put across. What people seemed to find difficult, or what people wanted to know if is if people at CILIP already had ideas as to what should happen to the branches and groups. What Annie made very clear was that the branch and group structure could not to continue as it is; it is too costly to run and the functions of the branches and groups could be delivered in a more efficient way. Annie gave an example of one group having 17 bank accounts, which does seem a bit loco! The administration of that must be a nightmare. What Annie also made clear was that we as representatives of the branches and groups and therefore members should have full involvement in shaping our future.
It was clear that people do feel uncomfortable by the changes that needs to be made. There were some feelings of tension at certain points throughout the day again, I think due to the uncertainty about what the future holds.

Daniel Sabel who works for the governance department at CILIP made the point that it wasn’t just the branches and groups that were going to have to make changes. Changes are happening throughout the whole of CILIP and again throughout the profession. What’s important is that we are involved in the changes being made and this workshop was an opportunity to do so.

What is obvious is that this is not going to be an easy process, as such a lot of people are involved in moving toward making a decision about how we can move forward and change the way we work to become more efficient and meet the needs of members.

The day was challenging and no decision was made about the future of branches and groups. Obviously it will take more discussion than in just one day to reach that point, however I do think that we did make progress in establishing the purpose of the branches and groups and also starting to look at ways in which we could work together in a more collaborative way.
How we achieve that is the process that we are going through now.  What struck me throughout the discussions is that the new professionals should totally get on board with this, a fresh perspective may be able to give some fresh ideas.

I personally do think the work of the branches and groups is essential and provides real opportunities to members in there professional development and networking and developing skills and so on, but I also recognise that this could be delivered in a more efficient way.

Discussions moved down to how we could perhaps work more collaboratively. Collaborative working does happen across many of the branches and groups already. Whether we can do this more efficiently was another discussion that happened. We also talked about whether different special interest groups could merge. We did discuss several options of ways that we could move forward to change the branch and group structure.

As someone that is still fairly new to the profession and defo new to the way that CILIP works, it’s clear that there is a lot of history that is still attached to the branch and group discussions. This is why I think the views of new professionals or people that are members of CILIPcould help move discussions forward. I’m not saying that established professionals don’t have valid opinions to offer. All I’m suggesting is that a mixture of viewpoints and experiences can help with these discussions.

So how did the day finish?Annie brought the day to an end recognising that more discussion needs to take place.  Notes of the discussions of the day will be circulated to branches and groups for discussion at committee meetings and another workshop will then take place later in the year to hopefully move nearer to a decision for a new framework for the branches and groups to operate in.

I will try and keep you posted. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or opinions on this then get in touch with your special interest groups or branch and get your views known.

Librarian Emma



13 responses

10 03 2011
CILIP branches & groups: some thoughts « Thing blogging

[…] and ensuing conversations within individual committees – useful summary provided by Katie and Emma if you want to check those out […]

9 03 2011

There are some useful ideas here. Currently I am on the committee of one of the sub-branches of one of the regional groups, but we are struggling with a lack of active members to sustain a committee and organise a minimum of activities (last year we managed an AGM/visit and a half-day seminar). I feel that a virtual network on Facebook/Twitter would be easier to sustain than trying to take time out of work for formal committee meetings – we’re all far too busy. Also a virtual group on Facebook or Twitter could be delivered at zero cost, as CILIP nationally tells us they can’t afford to fund a vast network of groups. This amuses me slightly, as our group has not asked for any capitation allowance from CILIP for a couple of years and we have funded any of the activities we have done from our own modest financial reserves. If, as I read above, other branches and groups have also not asked for capitation, then where are CILIP’s resources going? To maintain an expensive HQ in London, remote from a large percentage of CILIP’s ordinary members out in the regions? The feedback we have had locally from members and non-members who have attended our events have been that they welcome things being organised locally for ease of access and saving on expensive and difficult travel to London.

The only drawback to relying solely on a virtual group would mean we disenfranchise any of our members who don’t have online access – not everyone does.

9 03 2011
John B

To be fair, maintaining an expensive HQ in London makes more sense than maintaining offices in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. At least the railway lines lead to London, and the London, South-East and Eastern Regions alone make up 35% of the population of the UK – over twice as much as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.

18 05 2011
Phil Jones

But this is to suggest that London is the only option in England – how about Birmingham? I gather it’s possible to get there by train and it happens to be alot more central as well as far cheaper to rent office space. London bias much?

8 03 2011
John B

Many thanks for an excellent post, Emma. I found one thing particularly amusing: “What people seemed to find difficult, or what people wanted to know if is if people at CILIP already had ideas as to what should happen to the branches and groups.” When you get a reply “the branch and group structure could not to continue as it is; it is too costly to run and the functions of the branches and groups could be delivered in a more efficient way” – that’s as clear an indication of a closed mind as you are ever likely to get!

Still, look on the bright side: at least this lot have some idea of what they are doing (even if they won’t tell us what it is) – the previous bunch of clowns had no agenda, hidden or otherwise.

4 03 2011
Joeyanne Libraryanne » Polling your audience with PollEverywhere

[…] It would also be good to get views on the discussions about the future of branches and groups (read Emma Illingworth’s blog post for an excellent overview of the recent meeting about this), though that may be a bit […]

2 03 2011
Jo Alcock

Brilliant post Emma – thanks so much for sharing your notes and thoughts on the day. I hope to be able to get involved in some of the future discussions. I think this could be a great opportunity to improve the offering of branches/groups or whatever they may be called in the future!

3 03 2011

Thanks Jo and defo agree. I think once everyone is over feeling a bit threatened and start to look at different and improved ways that we can work then there’s lots of good stuff that we can do. There’ll be lots of discussion at this across committees, no doubt and I know you’ll have some aces ideas 🙂

2 03 2011

I am still mulling over how the branches and groups
are too expensive to run, given that the local divisions of
special interest groups have had not capitation for two
years, and the national groups have lost their capitation
this year!
To many people the events put on by the branches and
groups are the face of CILIP, and the main benefit they
get out of it – would love to know what the costs are.

2 03 2011

Yes, that very question, how much it actually costs to run the branches and groups came up during the day and as far as I remember there wasn’t an exact figure given. The capitation stuff was raised too and I think I’m right in saying that we (B&Gs) can ask CILIP for money, but we need to make a case for it.
Many people share your view that the events and activities of the branches and groups are the face of CILIP in the regions and that this is indeed very important and something that we want to maintain and develop. It’s how we deliver that which needs further discussion.
I know all comments are welcome though and Annie made it very clear that this is to be an inclusive process directed by us. I just feel that it’s a massive task considering the number of people involved in branch and group activity and it’s going to take much more than a couple of workshops before anything can be decided on the future of how we work.
Thanks for your comment. Lots more talk to be had on this I think 🙂

2 03 2011
Girl in the Moon

Thanks for posting this write-up. Sadly I didn’t get to hear about the meeting in advance, so I wasn’t able to contribute ideas through any channels. Please do let us know how things progress – I’ll be thinking about what I think about all this and will work out how to get my opinion heard!

2 03 2011

Katie! It is a shame that you didn’t get to hear about the meeting, your ideas and thoughts would have been most welcome. I don’t know how other branches and groups got the opinions of their members. You could get in touch with the East of England crew; Cambridgeshire comes under that branch I think and see how they went about it and make them aware that you want to know about the next lot of talking. Contacts are on the CILIP website:

The next workshop/meeting won’t be for a few months yet. At the moment we’re waiting to hear back from Annie with a round up of discussions of the day which we will be taking back to our committees to discuss. I think there are other channels we can use to gather member views; Twitter, LISNPN etc, so keep your eyes out.

Hopefully it comes across in the post that lots of people consider this to be an important issue and a process that needs input from members, we need to steer it!!

Thanks for the comment 🙂

2 03 2011
Girl in the Moon

Thanks for that info. I do have contacts in the East of England committee, but I understand that they’re short on numbers at the moment and that there might have been communication problems higher up the chain. But there’s no point worrying about that now – I now know that this discussion’s happening, will keep my eyes peeled for further news, and will do my best to spread the word about it to other people that might not have heard.

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