Sunday, 26 July 2015

Summer Endings

So this summer I finally cut my ties with CILIP. It had been a close thing, I hadn't really made up my mind until the day the renewal was due. I had given it a fair amount of thought over the last year, normally around the same time I added another copy of Update to my never decreasing 'to read' pile.

Now I've gained a fair amount from my relationship with CILIP. I got an enormous out of completing chartership and have no regrets about putting in that time and effort. I was also, very briefly, a candidate support officer, have participated in numerous workshops and have been the recipient of a number of bursaries that have allowed me to go to conferences that wouldn't otherwise have been an option for me in my early career. Throughout this relationship I have grown, undoubtedly improved as a librarian and certainly become a more reflective person. Yet I now consider that relationship to be at an end, at least for now.

I could argue that the money is going to a better use. I have in fact set up a direct debit to the Trussell Trust in lieu of my CILIP membership so hence forth they will be receiving the twenty pounds a month that my membership cost me. But the reality is that I don't give enough to charity, that I could afford that £20 and more and so it isn't really enough of a reason for me to have left the organisation. 

It was after chartership that things unravelled. I wanted to be a mentor. But there were no courses and despite several attempts I struggled to get information from CILIP about how I should proceed. In the end I gave up and became a candidate support officer. Given the chance I suspect I would have enjoyed and embraced this role, but an unplanned new job and the consequential region change brought an early end to my involvement with CILIP regions and I simply haven't re-engaged since.

Around this time I became increasingly uncomfortable with the organisation itself. The changes to the board that didn't seem exactly transparent. The debacle over the name change that left everyone involved slightly bemused. The sustained lack of any real action as the public library sector is decimated. The senior official who told me during an interview for a bursary that they didn't understand the relevance of the maker movement to libraries or education. Not enough to make me leave in itself but enough to ring warning bells and make me realise that my views on the library world didn't exactly match that held by my professional body. 

I also started to wonder whether in fact my professional body, through it's need to support a range of information professionals working across numerous different sectors and skill areas, could offer me the support I need at this stage of my career. Certainly my decision has been influenced by the nature of my job, which requires neither my qualification or membership. The fact of the matter is that I manage people and customer services. I have a team of over forty and a diverse range of responsibilities few of which were covered by my LIS MA. My years spent in the hospitality industry stand me in as much stead as my qualification when it comes to customer relations and increasingly I'm seeing that it's the work place training that have allowed me to develop into the manager I am today. For that I have in the main individuals to thank - people who have been willing to invest in me as a person and allow me to grow.

But most of all the decision  is down to me. To the Updates left unopened and unread. To the pile of management books on my desk that I have yet to engage with. To the pressures I've felt throughout this year as I struggle with a job that at times seems so huge I've wanted to run back to Manchester. To my personal demons that have made me doubt my abilities and my reasons for being in Southampton.

I know I will re-engage. There are many things I want to pick up on professionally, including revisiting makerspaces and the ever evolving area of ebooks that I once knew in detail. But I want to do those things for me. I want to enjoy the learning and discovery again rather than feel it is something I should be doing because I have a responsibility to continue to learn. But first I need some time to just pause and think.

I'm not ruling out re-joining CILIP although it's more likely I'd look to other professional bodies in the future. But right now now my free time is exactly that and if nothing else I no longer need to spend even a few moments of it recycling yet another unread Update.