This issue of CULIB concentrates on the nature of librarianship as a profession and the role of professional organisations.
Tackling the subject head-on, Antony Brewerton of Oxford Brookes University reviews Foskett's Creed of a librarian. In determining the relevance of this 1962 publication today, he discusses in what senses librarianship can be considered a profession, and how perceptions have changed over recent decades. An edited version of this article appears in the print issue of CULIB 54.
No discussion of librarianship as a profession could be complete without reference to CILIP, whose role in the accreditation of library professionals in the UK is central. Michael Martin, CILIP's Information Manager, Careers, gives us a useful guide to the proposed new framework of qualifications.
Many Cambridge librarians are actively involved in professional organisations and I interview several of those who serve on the committees of CILIP special interest groups or affiliated organisations to find out more. Staying with CILIP, Pat Aske reports on the Rare Books Group's 2003 conference in Oxford.
Linda Washington describes recent initiatives by the General Board Committee on Libraries to assist the professional development of librarians within the University.
As promised in our last issue, we remember Martin Williams, and are grateful to Dr Ian Patterson for his thoughtful and fitting tribute to a colleague who is sadly missed.
In our regular feature on what librarians do in their spare time, Allen Purvis shares with us his enthusiasm for Bob Dylan.
Back to Contents
I was recently asked to write a review article of Douglas Foskett's The creed of a librarian for the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. The resultant piece appeared in the March 2003 issue (35 , p.49-57). The idea behind this was to see if the 1962 work still had any relevance for what used to be called "the younger generation". I wasn't sure if I was supposed to bury or praise the venerable man, so I did what any reviewer worth their salt should do: I read it slowly, thought about it from my own experience and wrote what I really thought.
In many ways it is easy to ridicule bygone pieces. The past is not only a foreign country ... it is also a pretty weird one at times. Foskett falls into the usual stylistic traps you would expect from the early 'sixties. He blithely refers to all librarians as "he", formally praises Mister X and Mister Y for their achievements and asserts that he has no fear of being thought of as "a square". But is there more to Foskett than the odd, stiff, "Carry on Daddy-o" turn of phrase? Why - after 40 years - all the fuss about Foskett?
Welcome to the world of Foskett
For those of you who have not had the pleasure: a brief introduction to set the rest of this essay in context. Douglas Foskett's The creed of a librarian: no politics, no religion, no morals (to quote the full title) was based on a talk given to the Library Association's Reference, Special and Information Section (North Western Group) in Manchester on 27 March 1962 and published as a 13-page pamphlet by the LA later in that year.
Foskett's thesis is that librarianship lacks a philosophical and historical under-pinning and that "such a negative creed leads to a negative attitude to professional activity".
For Foskett, philosophy is central to life in general and professional outlook in particular. This is essential if we are to have "a sense of purpose". If we have no philosophy, says Foskett, "we live only a day-to-day existence, lurching from crisis to crisis, and lacking the driving force of an inner conviction of the value of our work". We lack philosophical thinking and historical understanding partly because library schools do not teach the history of libraries, of ideas.
So does this philosophical "attitude of mind" really exist? Some librarians champion the social role of the public library and consequently view it as more valid than academic or special libraries, we are told. For Foskett, there must be a more positive, more over-riding philosophy: "As librarians, we are the guardians - not the owners, but the guardians - of knowledge". We must balance selection of quality resources with freedom of information.
Success, for Foskett, comes from understanding context: "a library is part of the social organisation, and ... librarianship is a social process inextricably bound up with the life of a community". This has been most successfully achieved in special libraries where the objectives of the parent organisation are invariably more clearly articulated and economic justification (of departments and projects) is well established. An awareness of our history is also essential because "librarianship is a process, and like all processes is a dynamic continuum". Just as Man has evolved, so must the profession.
So what do we have in the way of philosophy to support? For Foskett, "the most sustained attempt to work out a philosophy of librarianship is that of Dr Ranganathan":
"Books are for use.
Every book its reader.
Every reader his book.
Save the time of the reader.
A library is a growing organism".
Foskett considers the implications of Ranganathan's five rules. Books are produced to disseminate ideas to an audience. Librarians are "key figures", the lynch pins bringing together writers and readers. To be successful, librarians must have not only a knowledge of publications but of readers as well. Too often, librarians disappear into ivory towers and treat their library as a "work of art", a beautifully catalogued collection of venerable tomes ... with no relevance whatsoever: "such librarians lack the very basic professional sense, and can never learn it because they have no contact with their readers".
To bring readers and information together you need a knowledge of both. More than that you need organisation. We need classification, but - again - catalogues must not be "works of art" in themselves but merely make life easier for the reader: "techniques are good only in so far as they provide efficient means for readers to get their material".
For Foskett the very essence of librarianship is this:
"It is the library's function, then, to serve as a store of information from which each reader can draw as he requires. It is an automatic memory, and relieves the reader of the necessity of remembering everything he has ever learnt. A store needs a key; the librarian and his professional techniques provide it."
The librarian should put his clients at the centre and serve their needs without concern for his own political, religious or moral outlook (hence the subtitle). This does not mean he should be immersed in their obsessions: he must use professional judgement and take a wider view. To achieve this, the librarian should not lack commitment (political, religious, moral values) but should indeed be dedicated: "how [else] can he enter into a sympathetic association with his readers?" This dedication should not be confined to providing an efficient reference service but should extend to all elements of library work, specifically indexing and classification: "no matter how agreeable we are, our readers will quickly lose faith in our competence if we cannot find the information they want".
So how can we achieve this ideal? "To be able to evaluate systems, to assess their relevance to the purpose of librarianship, we require a professional education". Professional education in the Library Schools and the Library Association's programme to Fellowship promote the right frame of mind, the right emphasis on philosophy. This - ultimately for Foskett - is the goal to which we should aspire:
"It will be this type of librarian who honours his profession, because through exercising it he does service to the community. Though, as a librarian, he makes no attempt gratuitously to foist his own opinions on his readers, yet his actions have their own influence. For service to readers, reference service in action, the complete involvement with someone else's problem, is the very negation of the predatory society towards which we are rushing, where all the old truths have taken on a new, more terrible significance: where it is everyman for himself and the devil take the hindmost, where the race does go to the strong, and the weak go to the wall. True librarianship is an open challenge to such a philosophy, a demonstration that Man is not entirely red in tooth and claw; and because of this, it is bound to be a formative factor of the highest importance in the shaping of the society of the future. We must cherish it."
Relevant or relic?
So what did I make of The creed...? As a student of history, I quickly learnt that a few hours carefully reading the primary sources were worth more than days reading criticisms. As this quick synopsis (that quotes heavily from the original) shows, Foskett's masterpiece carries many timeless themes. Indeed, this (for me) is the key beauty of The creed. Foskett does not get bogged down by detail but looks to the wider picture. The key message for me is that we need to know what we are trying to achieve. What is our function and hence our philosophy? Rather than become less relevant, I believe this is more relevant than ever.
This can be seen on a personal level. As a Route A supervisor (and line manager of a steady stream of new professionals aspiring to Chartership) it seems to me that the key point candidates need to get across if they are to be successful when submitting their PDR is this: how does my role contribute to the success of the organisation? If you do not understand what your role is and how this contributes to (in our case) the Library and subsequently the University, how can you hope to be effective, successful?
But the same must go for the Library itself. Mission statements may smack of Thatcher's work ethic and Blair's spin, but on a positive level a good one should provide a concise statement of intent. Strategic planning may just seem like another way of keeping training consultants busy, but a healthy organisation will see strategic plans feed into operational plans, into job descriptions and hence appraisal schemes. In my own library, for both departmental teams - like my Subject Team - and functional groups - like the Library's Marketing Group - operational plans, guided by strategic statements from the University and hence the Library, provide a clear steer, a guiding practical philosophy.
A philosophical approach
As is clear from reading Foskett, philosophy is indeed central to professional thought, professional activity. In my review essay I quote the philosopher Simon Blackburn. Blackburn has asserted in Think, his introduction to philosophy, that to the question "what is the point?" you may typically find three answers: the high-ground answer; the middle-ground answer; and the low-ground.
The high-ground approach would question the question. What do we mean when we ask what is the point? Pure reflection has no real practical application: it is just that we wish to understand ourselves better. This approach has limited appeal for our profession. Few of us have had a "calling" to become a librarian (this has even been called the "accidental profession" by Bosseau and Martin because most of us merely drift into librarianship). At best, the high-ground produces much humour: see Laura Swaffield's column in CILIP Update, for example. At worst, this can be actively damaging: Bob Usherwood et al have shown in their recent review of the state of UK public libraries that a "public service ethos" and a desire to "work with the public and communities" (the nearest we come to a calling) are by far the most popular reasons for staff joining. But what good has this done the service?!
The middle-ground response would be that reflection matters because it is continuous with practice: how you think about what you are doing affects how you do it or - indeed - whether you do it at all. Reflection can have a positive effect on how we function on a day-to-day basis. This strikes me as a more useful approach. What is the Chartership process but documented reflective practice? In my own library, subject staff are encouraged to reflect on their teaching both informally, by completing user education log sheets, and formally in triad groups using a peer observation and review approach to improve the delivery of information skills sessions.
The low-ground answer goes one step further down the practical path. Without reflection we get stuck in our ways and refuse to see the viewpoint of others. This is - perhaps sadly - where we need to become most adept. On the negative side we must learn to fight our detractors. We must study the arguments for our demise and practice the responses for our survival.
A few years ago Packard Bell ran an advertising campaign for its Internet services. It portrayed a nightmare library, a gothic hell, presided over by frog-marching skinhead librarians "shh"-ing in a menacing manner. Statues come alive to terrorise the patrons and in the corner a child sits, reading Paradise Lost. Cut to an idyllic cottage scene with a blonde-haired child using the Internet with the tag line: "wouldn't you rather be at home?"
Part of the evidence suggests that the advertisers were in tune with public attitudes. Margaret Robb's findings (reported in the SCONUL Newsletter) amplify what many of us have recorded (or at least suspected) for some time: reference enquiries, issues and photocopier use indicate a year-on-year decline in visits for the academic sector. Somewhat ironically, the focus of Robb's article is the building of a new library. Of course, producing a case for constructing a new library is notoriously difficult nowadays with declining footfall, declining enquiries and "everything available on the Internet". Many of us looking for funding for new buildings have been faced at some time or another with the perplexed/patronising response from at least some of the powers that be: "Why do you want a new library? There won't be libraries in five years time."
But it is not just developmental work that is under threat. In the provocatively titled opening chapter of The library in the twenty-first century: new services for the information age, "The end of libraries?", Peter Brophy quotes the views of an educational officer in the US:
"Access to electronic information is now so ubiquitous in higher education that this past summer an officer of a regional accreditation association sent a letter to academic library directors in his region posing this question: Is a library an absolute prerequisite for a degree-granting institution of higher education, or is it, instead, an indicator of some increasing level of quality above an accepted minimum?"
I am not obsessed with the need to market our libraries and their services without reason. In this day and age we need to market to survive. As the latest edition of de Saez's standard textbook says:
"The real value of marketing [in the digital world] is to ensure the survival and growth of the libraries and information services, which exist to enhance the communities they serve, adding value to the lives of the people and organizations who are their users, customers and clients."
The low-ground is where we will face our detractors.
On the positive side, the low-ground approach should enable us to adapt and grow. One of my favourite quotations (ever!) comes from the historian Thomas Carlyle:
"To-day is not yesterday: we ourselves change; how can our Works and thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue always the same?"
This piece of wisdom comes from 1831 but it is more relevant today than ever. Another favourite piece of mine is Theodore Levitt's seminal 1960 article Marketing myopia. Amongst a handful of useful and thought-provoking ideas, Levitt makes reference to the American railroads:
"The railroads did not stop growing because the needs of the passengers and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in trouble today, not because the need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes, even telephones), but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was because they were railroad-orientated; they were product-orientated not customer-orientated."
Foskett in the future?
I think the message from Levitt - and Foskett - is clear:
1. Know what you are really trying to achieve.
2. Be prepared to adapt to survive.
Librarians are generally very good at both of these. We see ourselves as being in the information game, rather than the book game. It is always people outside the field who will talk to you about the "love of books". Like Foskett we need to take the wider view and focus on the message not the medium. Our customers no longer have to come into the library to use the library and I am proud of the steps my own institution has taken to develop for its hybrid future.
My hat also goes off to all the libraries and librarians who have reinvented themselves, from the image-busting sites on the Web to even small things like the recent advertisement (that appeared in the first issue of CILIP's Library and Information Gazette, dated 16 January 2004) from Staffordshire County Council for the post of Deputy Head of Library Services. The job advert showed the stereotypical "shh"-ing dragon. Under the heading "Someone should tell her we're changing" the text began:
"Sorry Edna. Libraries aren't the sombre, silent places you'd like them to be. Not in Staffordshire. Our libraries are welcoming places where the whole community can access vital information or life-affirming entertainment. With funding secured on the back of our forward-thinking approach, we've refurbished many of them. And we're launching a marketing campaign to encourage people to make more of these wonderful resources.
You'll carry this momentum forward, leading our management team in shaping the libraries of the future. That means engaging staff in a new customer-focused culture and working with local groups to help them get more out of libraries..."
Brilliant! This, the wonderful new library at Peckham and the brilliantly marketed Birmingham Libraries are a far cry from the dinosaurs described by Usherwood and his colleagues.
In my own sector it is heart-warming to see e-mails on lis-link from universities with Learning Resources Centres aiming to reclaim the name "Library". As Editor of the SCONUL Newsletter (available via http://www.sconul.ac.uk) I am always delighted by the sheer magnitude of the copy I receive for both articles and news features. There is so much developmental work going on out there, so much adapting. It is especially pleasing to see investment in glorious buildings. The forthcoming issue 30 of the Newsletter reports on new, exciting libraries in the UK and also reviews a recent SCONUL visit to New York that found beautiful new library buildings being built by our American cousins. An obvious highlight for Andrew McDonald and Marie Reddan (quoted in a piece brought together by Sue Roberts) was the new James A. Cannavino Library at Marist College which is regarded as "the physical, intellectual and electronic centre of the college". By making their worth clear, librarians have not only convinced colleagues of their on-going indispensability, they have been able to secure funding for buildings that show that the library is going to be celebrated as being at the heart of the institution, today, five years hence and beyond.
We can all do this. Just follow Foskett...
Subject Team Leader (Arts, Social Sciences & Health Care)
Oxford Brookes University Library
Oxford, OX3 0BP
Tel: 01865 483139
Blackburn, Simon (1999) Think: a compelling introduction to philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Bosseau, Don L. & Martin, Susan K. (1995) The accidental profession. Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 1995, 21(3), p.198-199
Brewerton, Antony (1999) Wear lipstick, have a tattoo, belly-dance, then get naked: the making of a virtual librarian. Impact. November/December 1999, 2 (10), p.158-164 [available at http://www.careerdevelopmentgroup.org.uk/impact/archives/abrewerton.htm]
Brewerton, Antony (2002) Making our Web site a hit: how Oxford Brookes University weaved a Web marketing programme. Managing Information, January/February 2002, 9 (1), p.34-35
Brewerton, Antony (2003) The creed of a librarian: a review article. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science,March 2003, 35 (1), p.49-57
Brewerton, Antony (2003) Inspired! Award-winning library marketing. New Library World, 1 August 2003, 104 (7/8), p.267-277
Brewerton, Antony (2004) How I joined the Triads: the launch of a peer observation and review scheme at Oxford Brookes University Library.SCONUL Newsletter, Spring 2004, 31 (forthcoming)
Brophy, Peter (2001) The library in the twenty-first century: new services for the information age. London: Library Association Publishing
Carlyle, Thomas (1831) Essays: characteristics. The Edinburgh Review, December 1831, Vol. LIV [available at http://www.ecn.bris.ac.uk/het/carlyle/charact.htm]
De Saez, Eileen Elliott (2002) Marketing concepts for libraries and information services (Second edition). London: Facet Publishing
Foskett, D.J. (1962) The creed of a librarian: no politics, no religion, no morals. London: Library Association
Gambles, Brian and Schuster, Heike (2003) The changing image of Birmingham libraries: marketing strategy into action. New Library World, 2003,104 (1192), p.361-371
Glancey, Jonathan (2000) Shelf life. Guardian Weekend. 4 March 2000, p.19-24
Levitt, Theodore (1960) Marketing myopia, Harvard Business Review, July-August 1960, p.45-56
Robb, Margaret (2002) An economical and flexible library? SCONUL Newsletter, Summer/Autumn 2002, 26, p.17-20
Roberts, Sue (2003) "We're in a New York state of mind": SCONUL New York study tour 2003. SCONUL Newsletter, Winter 2003, 30 (forthcoming)
Saatchis' ad shows nightmare library. Library Association Record, December 1996, 98 (12), p.605
Usherwood, Bob et al (2001) Recruit, retain and lead: the public library workforce study (Library and Information Commission Research Report 106). London: Re:source: the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries
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In April 2002 something big started. An organization called the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals was born and lots of questions were asked. The biggest question was, what is an Information Professional? The answer was that it was a term coined to cover a range of jobs and careers where people organized, marketed and researched information. They did these tasks for local and international communities. They did them to support public services and government; to underpin business and science. People recognized some posts as Librarians and Information Scientists, but terms like Knowledge Manager, Information Officer and Information Architect needed to be covered too.
What made this a profession and the legion of workers within professionals? It was a profession because to do these things effectively and thoughtfully you not only had to be thoroughly trained, you also had to have an appreciation of the repercussions of working with a sensitive and powerful subject: information.
The next question was how should people be prepared for this career? And, if they were to have a professional body, how would they be supported in their development throughout their career? CILIP might be a new organization, but it has over a 150 years of combined history from two organizations: the Library Association and the Institute of Information Scientists. Education had always been an integral part of the work of these bodies since they were formed. Competence had always been examined and Members could become Chartered, full Members or Fellows. They agreed a common body of knowledge and accredited academic courses using those criteria.
As an Information Professional your career can take you from reader development in a children's library to intranet development for a government department (you can rearrange that last sentence any way you wish). You will not stop gaining knowledge and skills; your achievements will also continue. CILIP is working on a way to recognize achievement from whatever quarter and to support your learning however it is delivered. And there are two major developments coming next year, March 2005.
The first is that there will be a Certificate scheme open to everyone working in libraries and information in posts often referred to as paraprofessionals. Using qualifications and training that already exist candidates can attain a level of Membership attracting ACLIP, (Associate of the Chartered Library and Information Profession) postnominals.
If the candidate wishes and it is appropriate, Certification can be used to work towards Chartership. This may be progressed to without following an accredited degree. The Chartership requirements will not alter. Candidates must be working at a level that meets the current criteria for registering to Charter, but the new system will allow candidates previously excluded because they did not have a degree, but who were running information services or managing information and knowledge, to have their work recognized by a professional qualification: the Chartership.
Using the National Framework of Qualifications devised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the QCA, candidates will be eligible to register to Charter who have a level 4 award. Existing awards at this level include S/NVQs (Scottish and National Vocational Qualifications) and the HND (Higher National Diploma).
Attaining Chartered Membership has always brought with it the commitment that "Members must be competent in their professional activities including the requirement (i) to keep abreast with developments in librarianship in those branches of professional practice in which qualifications and experience entitle them to engage." The changes in 2005 will bring an opportunity to measure these continued achievements. Revalidation will enable members to have their continued professional development recognized as Chartership plus or extra.
The title and the length of time between the assessing evidence of revalidation have not been decided yet. The title must recognize the effort put in by candidates choosing revalidation and the timing must take into account candidates' busy lives. As you read this the results of CILIP Member consultation are being collated to ensure revalidation and certification provide support to its Membership and not added barriers.
Many professions are regulated, and must prove to the satisfaction of a third party that their members are fit to practise. What they do is so important that they cannot allow their qualifications to grow stale. As a Chartered body we already have a third party, the Privy Council, that assures clients and customers that Chartered Members of the Institute are fit to practise. Our commitment to good practice must be underpinned by a framework that encourages and rewards continued professional development, because what we do is important. Information touches people's lives in the community, in business and in health. CILIP sponsors the prize, Libraries Change Lives. For modern life the statement can read Information Changes Lives.
The revalidation scheme will be voluntary. There will be Members for whom this is impracticable, but those who can take part should take part. This is an opportunity worth grasping. Already CILIP emphasizes the status of Chartered Members, respected by the professions amongst whom we operate; soon we will be able to build upon that attainment. Revalidation also provides a clear path to becoming a Chartered Fellow. After two cycles you will be able to assess your development and decide if the time is right to apply.
From March 2005 Members of CILIP will be able to use the new framework of qualifications to design their careers and development. This will help them do the job they do as well as possible and get the proper rewards. It will enable them to bring ACLIP postnominals or evidence of revalidation to appraisals and to the negotiation table during restructuring talks.
CILIP Members who are working at a paraprofessional level and who may have taken advantage of City & Guilds certificates or S/NVQs can register their interest in the CILIP Certification scheme now and they will be sent details about it after September. And if you are working in a professional capacity but have thought that you were excluded from Chartering you should also watch the developments as routes will open up next year. For everyone working in information and libraries we are in an exciting period. Not only are information professionals proving their worth more and more, continued professional development is evolving to recognize their worth and support their education.
CILIP has conducted a major information gathering exercise and soon the results will be put at the disposal of everyone working in information. Use this to enhance your development and to guide your career. This will be a major step forward for information professionals and for the communities and clients we serve.
Use the Framework and your professional body, CILIP, to plan your development from Certification to Fellowship. Make your career the next big thing.
If you want to register an interest in Certification please contact the Qualifications section at CILIP and to find out more about the proposals for the framework of qualifications see the CILIP website: http://www.cilip.org.uk/qualifications/framework.html
Information Manager, Careers CILIP
7 Ridgmount Street
London WC1E 7AE
Tel: 020 7255 0625
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Many Cambridge librarians are members of professional organisations. Four of those, who have found that participation in the committees of such bodies has allowed them greater opportunities to contribute to the running of professional activities, have agreed to tell us more about their involvement.
Co-Editor of CULIB and Librarian of the Haddon Library, Aidan Baker has been a member of CILIP's International and Library Information Group (formerly the International and Comparative Librarianship Group) since 1987. Participation in the ILIG was a natural step, given his involvement in organisations like the World Development Movement, which campaigns politically on rich-world/poor-world questions. Christmas 1986 found Aidan in a Nicaraguan coffee-picking brigade, from which experience came an article for the LA Record about Nicaragua's rural libraries. ILIG's journal Focus was another incentive to join, providing a lot of material relevant to his interests. He was invited to stand for the committee in 1992.
Heather Lane, Librarian of Sidney Sussex, has been a member of the Bliss Classification Association since 1994. Planning to reclassify the library at Sidney, she wanted to find a group of like-minded colleagues who might be able to offer guidance through the project. The following year, the post of Hon. Secretary fell vacant, and Heather was asked to take on the role. She was keen to get more involved so that Sidney could have greater input into the development of Bliss.
Lyn Bailey, Librarian of the Classics Faculty, is on the Committee for the East of England CILIP Regional Branch, and on the National Committee for the University, College & Research Group of CILIP. Lyn stood for the UC&R committee when they advertised for volunteers - a way to combat any sense of professional isolation. Lyn then stood for the East of England branch, having enjoyed contacts made through UC&R and wishing to get more involved locally.
Joanna Ball, Sub-Librarian at Trinity College, is Vice President of CILIP's Career Development Group. She first became involved with the group (then the Association of Assistant Librarians) as a student representative while studying for her MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL in 1995. As part of the introduction to her course, students attended an LA Roadshow at Ridgmount Street, where she was impressed by the enthusiasm of the AAL Student Officer and the secretary for the local division. The AAL seemed to her to be the only LA Group making a real attempt to represent or meet the needs of LIS students, so she signed up, and within a couple of weeks was attending her first National Council as student representative. On moving to Cambridge Joanna took on the position of divisional secretary. In 1999 she was asked to stand as National Secretary, and last year become Vice President of the Group. Her Presidential year will start on 1st April 2004. Part of the President's role is representing the Group on CILIP Council and being involved in the decision-making process at a national level.
For our four examples, what does committee membership involve in terms of time, duties, and level of commitment?
Typically, the groups meet three or four times a year. Specific duties vary, depending on the group and position held. Members can adjust their level of commitment, taking on particular tasks or projects, for example, conference organisation, when they have time to do so. For all committee members there is paperwork to absorb between meetings and responses to make to CILIP, for example on the new revalidation for Chartership. All find that other committee members are supportive and willing to volunteer for extra duties when needed. Email contact between members means that they can react quickly.
Aidan, for instance, is responsible for minuting thrice yearly committee meetings. Additional duties have included representing ILIG at CILIP roadshows, and suggesting means of fundraising. (A cookbook is currently in preparation!) After Focus, ILIG's flagship project is the Anthony Thompson Fund, which is used to subsidise librarians from overseas making their first professional visits to the UK. A subset of ILIG committee members select a candidate, devise a programme, and arrange and provide hospitality.
The first project for which Aidan signed up was the drafting of a policy statement for the group. The drafting sub-committee contained every shade of political opinion from the most conventional of Guardian readers to an individual who maintained that Amnesty International was a CIA front organisation. No mean task to produce something to which all could agree!
As Hon. Secretary, Heather minutes thrice yearly meetings, processes the BCA's correspondence, deals with software suppliers and provides technical support to other committee members using the production software. She also liaises with the BCA's publishers to organise the publication of complete schedules, organises the AGM (venue and speakers) and any training courses run throughout the year. Much of this is done with the help of ordinary members of the committee.
The Cambridge librarians have much to offer their various committees. Besides enthusiasm, time, energy, and specific commitment to the issues dealt with by their groups, their professional skills such as minuting or chairing meetings, negotiating and organising abilities all contribute to the efficient running of the various bodies. Heather, for instance, has been able to use her experience as a trainer to become the BCA's training officer, providing tailored courses for new users, to use Sidney's library to test draft schedules, and to provide input into the development of Bliss from the perspective of a practical classifier rather than a theoretician. Crucially, all four Cambridge librarians are able to give members from other sectors insight into the issues facing small, specialist libraries in the HE sector.
The benefits of involvement in professional organisations seem clear. All four interviewed felt that they had been able to develop skills in areas not covered by their jobs, and a far greater understanding of the challenges facing a range of libraries, including issues such as social inclusion, access, copyright, digitisation, and government proposals which have broader impacts than those experienced directly by Cambridge libraries. Aidan also acknowledged a greater geopolitical awareness developed through ILIG.
For committee members the support of one's employers is necessary to make attendance at meetings on working days possible. However, our interviewees emphasised that when a librarian is supported in pursuit of such professional activity, his or her library can benefit greatly from the individual's contacts, practical skills and knowledge gained, together with a greater awareness of current issues and professional practice. All those interviewed pointed to the practical benefits of gaining experience of committee skills, organising events, giving presentations, etc.
The value of networking with colleagues from a range of library sectors was universally stressed. It gives a broader perspective on the profession as a whole, prevents insularity and helps combat professional isolation. Librarians find the opportunity to contribute at a regional, national, or even international level extremely rewarding and professionally motivating. It was also remarked that insight into other sectors could be beneficial if one wished to change direction in one's career, moving into a different field of library and information work. All said that the opportunity to learn from the experiences of very different libraries can have direct (and sometimes surprising) relevance to the management of their own. Lasting friendships have been made with librarians from all over the country. While networking within Cambridge is essential and valued, it can be stimulating to share a broader perspective.
Several of the librarians interviewed commented that involvement gives a far greater understanding of CILIP's work as a professional organisation, and this in turn, enables them to gain greater benefit from their membership, in terms of the expertise of its secretariat, attendance at meetings and conferences, and contacts with other information professionals. Despite some personal dissatisfaction with CILIP's support of LIS professionals, one committee member had become aware that the organisation undertakes more campaigning than is apparent to the wider membership and felt that perhaps this could be better publicised. Another recognised the feeling among some academic librarians that CILIP does not represent professionals in the HE sector well, and is too focussed on public libraries, countering this with the opinion that if we do not like what our professional body is doing, then we should get involved and try to change it.
Many thanks to Aidan Baker, Heather Lane, Lyn Bailey, and Joanna Ball for their contributions to this article. Further information on the organisations featured, and other special interest groups, may be found on the CILIP website. http://www.cilip.org.uk/interests/interests.html
St John's College
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The title of the September 2003 CILIP rare books group conference, 'Preserve or Perish', had rather a dark tone, but this was appropriate since the main day of talks was held on the second anniversary of September 11th. However, the conference itself was very inspirational and wide-ranging. The topics covered included disaster preparedness, insurance claims after a flood, new buildings, rebinding, archives centres with coffee shops, lighting, integrating preservation policies into collection management and much more.
The conference was held at St Hilda's College, Oxford, just on the city boundary but only a short walk to the centre. Delegates came from all corners of the UK; Cambridge was well represented, and it was nice to meet old friends now based in Oxford. Conservation covers so much more than the restoration of rare books. We saw a petrified wig in Magdalen College old library, Suffragette Christmas cards in the John Johnson collection of printed ephemera in the new Bodleian Library, and we heard of ghosts, who left when the Codrington Library of All Souls College was being refurbished, and moved back in with the staff when the work was completed.
Oxford was the ideal place to host this conference because it is at the forefront of integrating conservation measures. We had two afternoons of workshops ranging from a visit to the Oxford Conservation Consortium in their brand new workshop, which was very impressive, to the new Oxford Archives centre, created out of a converted church, and a look at improved lighting in Duke Humphrey.
Blackwells hosted a reception where we were surrounded by memorabilia celebrating the family history. One of the sponsors of the conference, Conservation by Design, presented us all with a phase box briefcase!
There was a great spirit of co-operation at the conference. The emphasis was on ideas of cross-domain sharing of resources, ideas, and digitisation. One aspect that struck home was creating benchmarks for collection care, put forward by Helen Lindsay, Principal Conservator, London Metropolitan Archives. In the keynote address Helen Shenton, Head of Collection Care at the British Library, spoke of the increase in print and the consequent storage and preservation issues. Anna Bulow, a paper conservator, told us that a salt mine was the ideal place to store national archives. Owen Bradford, Head of the Bindery at Newcastle University, faced with the task of preserving thousands of photographs, told us of his plans about keeping transient images alive on the web and making them secure, usable, and searchable. He also described intelligent paper: one piece of paper can hold 57 novels, and it's waterproof, and it's just 3-5 years away! Chris Woods, Head of the Department of Preservation and Collections for Oxford University Library Services spoke about a new holistic approach to conservation, looking at buildings management and the use of surrogates for valuable material, but we were brought down to earth by Nicholas Pickwoad's after dinner speech. He seemed unimpressed by talk of digital preservation and surrogates. He reminded us of the importance of the book as an artefact that must be preserved with its history intact and as little interference as possible.
A full report on the conference will be published in the Rare Books Newsletter: http://www.cilip.org.uk/groups/rbg
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At the time of writing the General Board Committee on Libraries is advertising the post of Temporary Library Staff Development Adviser, an appointment which members hope will be the first step in co-ordinating various aspects of the University's approach to professional development for librarians. The idea for the project originated in a 'grass roots' consultation across the library sector. Each year the Committee conducts a series of visits to faculty and departmental libraries prior to a scheduled full review, in order to ascertain any particular resource or organisational problems that might be addressed, such as pressure on space, funding issues, rising periodical costs, or staffing levels. While the Committee has no funds at its disposal, it can offer advice based on experience across the library sector and its reports highlight topics for attention in the full review. One recurring theme has been a perceived lack of support from the University for library staff career development and training. The Personnel Division's Staff Development Section has made great strides in recent years by widening its range of general career development courses for all categories of staff, while the Computing Service offers more specific software training programmes. The University Library, because of the numbers of staff involved, is able to offer an internal training programme targeted at specific career needs but it does not have the remit or resources to extend this to other faculty or departmental library staff, except in so far as it concerns Union Catalogue support or the expanding programme of user-education.
The Committee decided to gauge experiences and opinion across the library sector and in Lent Term 2003, after consultation with the Personnel Division, sent out a 'scoping study' questionnaire to faculty, departmental and college libraries. University Library staff were excluded from the circulation list as the active internal programme creates a very different training environment. At the time the questionnaire was despatched the University's Annual Returns listed 23 academic-related and 117 assistant posts, while the CCLF provided figures of 52 professional and 33 assistant grade posts. 49 replies were received and Ian Hewes and Meg Tait of the Staff Development Section analysed them for a preliminary report and subsequently conducted follow-up interviews with some individuals who raised questions of particular interest, allowing Ian to produce a final report in October 2003. (Copies of both reports can be found in full on the Union Catalogue Web pages). Even this comparatively limited response reflected the complexity and diversity of library operations throughout the University, the mixture of generalist and specialist posts involved, as well as a very varied pattern of professional qualification, all of which result in a wide variety of training needs. While the majority of replies demonstrated an awareness of current training opportunities there appeared to be wide disparities in how information is communicated, appraisal and feedback arrangements and support for attendance at courses, particularly those outside the University.
As there is currently no single body charged with taking remedial action on the results of the survey the Committee on Libraries concluded that the appointment of a 'Library Staff Development Adviser' could draw together various areas of expertise, and take some immediate steps to improve the profile and content of library career development, as well as ensure that existing opportunities are exploited to the best advantage. This project will be funded by the Personnel Division's new Accelerated Experience Scheme, which aims to 'promote career and work flexibility'. If a department has a project of limited duration outside the normal scope of its staff it can now apply to the AES with details of the scheme and, if approved, advertise a vacancy. The successful applicant is seconded to the project either full or part-time for the equivalent of three months at their current grade, while the home department receives a payment equal to the cost of a replacement which it may use to employ a temporary member of staff, to pay for extra time put in by existing members of staff, or to finance upgrades to cover the work. It is hoped that in completing the project the individual will gain skills and experience that he or she can utilise to benefit their immediate work and to further their career. The Library Staff Development adviser is the third such project to be advertised and is breaking new ground in that the secondment is to a committee, rather than a department. The appointee will be guided by a standing sub-committee composed of the four library representatives on the General Board Committee on Libraries, currently myself, Richard Ansorge, Jane Milburn and Heather Lane, while co-opted member David Wills brings his experience gained on the University Library's Staff Development Steering Group. In turn, the appointee will be invited to attend Steering Group meetings when appropriate.
It is intended that the adviser will 'devise and implement centralised points of reference for all grades and types of library staff, identify any specialist courses that might usefully be added to the University's training programme and determine any ongoing personnel and financial resources required.' There are several immediate practical tasks that he or she might undertake: create a focal point for communication, perhaps via a new website or by email; draw up a common mechanism for feedback on any course undertaken and for making the properly evaluated results accessible to others; devise an induction pack for staff new to Cambridge or transferring within the University; examine practical ways in which attendance at external training could be better supported, perhaps by drafting guidelines for funding applications; prepare a list of qualified staff willing to supervise candidates for CILIP or advise on other qualifications, and prepare support material for these supervisors. In a parallel strategy Ian Hewes will investigate whether CILIP is prepared to 'validate' some Cambridge Staff Development courses as recognised contributions to 'Continuing Professional Development'. As the project progresses the Committee on Libraries will consider how this work can be supported on a longer-term basis.
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Martin Williams, who died in June 2003, came to Queens' as College Librarian in October 1995. He came as a relatively inexperienced librarian, having started out in life as a nurse, working in Peterborough. Despite enjoying that and being good at it, nursing did not fulfil all Martin's intellectual needs, and in his thirties he went to the University of Warwick to take a degree in Classics. He followed this with a qualification in librarianship, and took up his first post in the library of the Cambridge Classics Faculty. It was after several happy years there that he moved on to Queens' to take charge of the libraries. He was responsible for the day-to-day running of the recently redesigned and refurbished War Memorial Library, the (primarily undergraduate) working library of the college, and also for the Old Library, a collection of some forty thousand titles, including medieval manuscripts, fine bindings and some incunabula.
It must have been quite a daunting task: he had not previously had responsibility for a historic collection such as Queens' Old Library and there were major tasks to confront in the undergraduate library as well. But undeterred by the difficulty or magnitude of the jobs in front of him, he set about getting things done. He familiarised himself with the Old Library catalogue, and its history, and rapidly became very knowledgeable, and an expert guide. He was a constant source of information and expertise for casual and scholarly enquirers alike, and welcomed visitors researching rare texts or aspects of the library's past, and did valuable work in identifying books for conservation. Meanwhile, downstairs in the working library all sorts of things needed to be done. The most important was the reclassification of the books, and then the installation of a computerised borrowing system, both of which he successfully carried through. He didn't know much about computer systems at first, but he set about learning with his usual wry patience and cheerfulness. Miraculously, he seemed always to be on hand to deal with student queries, despite the hundreds of other things he was doing. In fact, he was always willing to do anything and everything, and do it with interest and with care. He began the long and rather tedious business of reclassifying the books uncomplainingly, leading from the front, taking the task on, mastering it and carrying it forward, as he did later with the computerisation. Today's undergraduates, and the College fellows, have good reason to be grateful to him: he did a lot to shape the library environment they take for granted.
When I became Fellow Librarian a few years ago, Martin took on the additional job of educating me with tact and kindness. Almost every week he would show me some query he had received from somewhere in the world, asking for some recondite or bizarre piece of information drawn from one of the manuscripts or from one of the thousands of books in the collection, and then explain how he had set about answering it. Old Members of the college, too, would write in from time to time, too, with questions which could sometimes seem rather trivial or distracting. But Martin always replied to all queries equally, and always dealt with them with cheerfulness and aplomb. He dealt just as well with the current students, moderating the exasperation he must sometimes have felt with his quirky good humour. Like all librarians, he had to do battle from time to time with students who thought the library was a good place to eat burgers, or cake, or to drink coffee, or to listen to walkmans, or to make phone calls, but I never saw him really cross. He was never confrontational, but always effective. Something about the slightly ironic, slightly amused tone with which he used to explain the rules made most people want to uphold them. He worked very hard to ensure that the library functioned well and to make it a pleasant place to work in.
Occasionally I caught glimpses of Martin's other passions, such as opera or travel. Indeed he was so talented that I almost came to expect regular revelations of new interests and abilities, as on the day he casually mentioned that he'd started giving piano lessons again, or that he'd been learning more Latin. His illness came tragically early and deprived us at Queens' of a fine and well-liked colleague.
Dr Ian Patterson
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In October 2003, Sonia Londero was appointed as Assistant Librarian (Bibliographic Services) at Gonville and Caius. Sonia is Italian but has been living in the UK for over a decade. After completing her first degree she worked in the information unit of a law firm in London and then went on to study for a MSc in Information Science at City University. She then moved to Cambridge and worked at the SPS library for almost two years before moving on to G&CC.
Diana Hutcheson is the new Under-Librarian at Hughes Hall, succeeding Karen Begg. Diana is returning to the profession after a career break.
Penny Granger is no longer working in Churchill College Library.
In January, Catherine Ansorge retired as Librarian of Oriental Studies, after twenty years off and on. Up to a third of the library's collection is in languages using non-Roman scripts - Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian. These, Catherine says, are in Newton by a judicious mix of copy-cataloguing and the expertise of the library team as a whole, and the challenge of the languages is one of the things she has most loved about the job.
Catherine's place will be taken by Françoise Simmonds, who moves to Cambridge from the Japan Centre in London.
At the Education Library, Lucy Seffen has had a baby! George Max Samuel Seffen entered the world on Sunday 18 January, weighing in at 6lb 9oz. During Lucy's maternity leave, her post is being covered by Mel Eyeons. Mel came to Cambridge in September, following her husband's appointment as Chaplain at Downing, and is now putting the finishing touches to her MSc dissertation for Aberystwyth.
Another baby expected shortly is for Sarah Wygard at the Isaac Newton Institute. Sarah's cover is Margo Kirk, who has been temping, off and on, since 1995. For Margo, maternity cover is a long-haul assignment, and she says it makes a welcome change.
Social and Political Sciences has a new assistant - Janet Morgan, who moves there after nine years at Robinson. Outside the library, Janet's interests are cinema, theatre, reading, walking, and watching cricket.
Lynsey Goddard will, by the time you read this, have started at the Classics Library as a Graduate Trainee, succeeding Rebecca Oakes who bounced through the post on her way to a PhD at King Alfred College Winchester.
As promised in the last issue the editors are pleased to announce that AnneMarie Robinson of the University Library's Rare Books Department has had a daughter named Evie May Tynan. Evie was born on 25th November weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 5oz. Emily Mitchell will be joining Rare Books staff on 2nd February to cover AnneMarie's maternity leave. Emily comes from the Jerwood Library at Trinity College of Music in London where she has most recently been working as Assistant Archive Cataloguer on the Mander and Mitchenson Theatre Archive. She may be a familiar face to some having used Rare Books as a reader, whilst studying for her MPhil and PhD in History, and formerly having worked part-time as an invigilator and cataloguer at Jesus College. Her interests include singing and coaching Jesus College Boat Club.
Gillian Manning has joined the Reference staff as a Saturday Assistant in the West Room covering Lucy Dennison's maternity leave. She is joined there by a number of full-time fetchers, namely Dan Zhu, Katrine Ib Thomsen, Owen Jenkins and Alex Wright. Dan worked as a teacher at Yunyan Secondary School of Guiyang City in China before moving to Britain in 2002 to study for an MA in Education. Katrine comes from Copenhagen where, after gaining a BA in English and Danish, she worked with Amnesty International and Alzheimer's patients whilst studying occupational therapy and psychology. Owen joins the team from Cambridge Regional College whilst Alex moved from the UL canteen. Martin Westlake worked briefly as a fetcher in the West Room before moving to Manuscripts.
In Periodicals Leona McGee has been temporarily promoted to work on a six -month project to edit periodical holdings records in Newton. Her substantive post will be temporarily filled by Laura Careless who has up until now worked in Periodicals as a fetcher.
Collection Development and Description welcome both Eleonore Miguet and Stella Morley. Eleonore, who will be working in European Collections and Cataloguing, joins us from the Cambridge branch of the Cultural Department of the French Embassy replacing Athina Valdramidou, who as reported in the last issue returned to her native Greece. Eleonore previously worked as a production assistant for a theatre company in Reunion Island and has a degree in Management. Her interests include hiking and, naturally, theatre. Stella returns to the library after an absence of approximately two years. During this time she completed a library and information course at Aberystwyth and worked on a temporary contract at the Social and Political Science Library. She joins English Collections and Cataloguing to cover Carmen Cheung's maternity leave. Rebekah Young,wife of cataloguer Richard, also joins the division, working part-time as a labeller following the retirement of Margaret Orr. Sonia Morcillo-Garcia, the UL Spanish and Portuguese Specialist, and Fiona Grant, Senior Cataloguer and production and distribution editor for CULIB, are both congratulated on their successful completion of an M.A. in Library and Information Studies at University College London.
Having completed a similar course at the University of North London, Ian Walker left his position in Legal Deposit at the UL to take up the post of librarian at the Medical Research Centre at Addenbrookes. Ian was replaced by Chris Bell, who gained promotion, having formerly worked in Inter Library Loans.
Dr Geoffrey Roper of Islamic Bibliography retired whilst Rare Books Room Superintendent Glenna Awbrey, returned to the USA. Steve Gurner, Alex Hassan and Luke Oakes moved on to pastures new.
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Readers would probably be uninterested in reading about my prowess (or lack of) at golf, and latterly, bowls. I will confine this article to my interest, or as some would say, obsession with Bob Dylan, who after more than 40 years of writing, recording and performing, is considered as one of the greatest lyric poets of the 20th century.
My first encounter with the works of Bob occurred when I heard 'Like a Rolling Stone' on a jukebox in a café in St. Ives in July 1965. For a 'pop' song to last six minutes was unheard of in those days, and it made a profound impression on me. However it took another eight years for me to acquire a record player and start collecting the great man's recorded works. I bought all his albums and singles within a short time. Working at the University Library gave me the opportunity to read the biographical and critical studies, which started appearing in the seventies. I now buy as many books on Bob as I can and have purchased all his works again on CD. For me, listening and reading are not enough, so from 1978 to the present I have seen him in concert on sixteen occasions.
Dylan has visited these shores to perform on numerous occasions since 1965. I was not fortunate enough to have witnessed the infamous 'electric' tour of 1966 or his concert on the Isle of Wight in 1969. I first attended a concert at Earls Court in 1978, which was Bob's first visit since 1969. Three years later he toured again, but my interest had waned during his 'religious' period, so regrettably I didn't bother to go. In 1984 I was due to go to Wembley Stadium, but my son was taken to hospital after a cycle accident, so I gave up the ticket.
In the same year, the Cambridge Bob Dylan Society came into being, initially meeting in Professor Christopher Ricks' room at Christ's College, and later at the Royal Standard pub. I found it fascinating to meet and talk with other like-minded souls, most of whom were veteran Bob-watchers. (By the way, the Society still meets on the last Friday of alternate months, currently at the Golden Hind. We have our own website: http://www.keme.co.uk/~nye/bobdylan.htm)
In 1988 Bob began what is known as the Never Ending Tour. He has played 1588 concerts since then, including 77 in theUK. I have endeavoured to see him at least once on every tour since, starting at Wembley Arena in 1989. He played six February concerts each year at Hammersmith Odeon in 1990, 1991 and 1993, when to be brutally honest he wasn't always at his best. The worst concert I've ever seen was on February 12, 1991, when a woeful performance was followed by a frightening journey home through freezing fog and black ice. However things have improved radically in recent years, as he constantly reinvents himself by reworking his old songs and introducing new ones, such as 'Dignity' at the Aston Villa Centre in April 1995.
In May 1997, Bob was taken ill with histoplasmosis, and we thought he might never perform again, But lo and behold, he arrived at the end of September, and sounded almost as good as ever. In June 1998, I interrupted a golf holiday in North Wales to see him in Manchester, with Van Morrison also on the bill. It was there that I bumped into Craig Jamieson from the UL, who shares the same obsession! The following year I went to Sheffield and Wembley, which were two of the finest shows I've seen. Bob was by now introducing old bluegrass and gospel songs into his act. His band contained two talented guitarists who also harmonized well with Bob's distinctive but unusual phrasing.
In July 2001 Craig persuaded me to accompany him to Liverpool, and stay in a ridiculously expensive hotel, in order to see Bob perform under canvas at King's Dock. The following year I upped my quota to three by going to Bournemouth, Manchester, and London's Docklands. Recently I saw Bob perform at Birmingham NEC and Brixton Academy. He has abandoned his guitar, and simply plays electric piano, not forgetting the occasional burst on the harmonica.
Throughout all this time, Dylan has changed his style of singing and playing, while remaining true to his art. His voice is certainly showing signs of wear, and his dress sense is eccentric to say the least. Despite his age (63 this year) he puts himself through a punishing schedule of concerts, and shows no sign of slowing up. His two most recent albums, Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft have received widespread critical acclaim, and although he's no longer a spokesman for a generation, he's recognised as one of a very few artists from the sixties with something new to say.
As I mentioned above, my interest in Bob led me to seek out books and other published material. While working at the UL I arranged the acquisition of many rare and unusual items, some of which were displayed on exhibition in the Library during May and June 2001 to commemorate his sixtieth birthday. Photos from the exhibition together with a snap of the curator may be viewed on the Cambridge Bob Dylan Society website.
Rare Books Cataloguer
St John's College
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The Michaelmas 2004 issue of CULIB will be tackling a huge subject:
If you have interesting insights into any aspect of this theme: electronic access to full text journals (the effect on print provision, technical or licence issues, user education, etc.), digitisation of historic journals, subscription deals, the acquisition or cataloguing of journals, management of back runs, binding, offprint collections, etc., then the editors would like to hear from you. All contributions to Aidan Baker please by 31 August.
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CULIB is edited by Aidan Baker (Haddon Library; 01223 333506) and Kathryn Mckee (St John's College; 01223 338663), and is produced and distributed by Fiona Grant (University Library; 01223 333093).