Since my earlier post (multitasking lunch breaks R Us!), I’ve had some more feedback on peoples feelings about the proposed names for CILIP, and it seems that a lot of people are unhappy that the words “library” or “librarian” aren’t included in the options.
Now, it may just be because of my recent job hunting experiences, but I don’t see that the skills of an information professional are tied to the words library or librarian. If I had restricted my job search to only those sectors, I would never have found a job (there have been a grand total of 3 library roles advertised in 3 months). I have looked at roles with terms like: data, knowledge, information, management, administrator, researcher, project co-ordinator, digital, policy. Those terms are all related to dealing with information professionally, and to me, the core skills of an information professional lie in their ability to effectively manage information, in whatever format it may come in. Historically, that information was laid down in written texts, and held within libraries. The word “library” comes from the Latin for book, but these days, it’s not just books that librarians deal with. And it’s not just libraries that information professionals work in either: they can be in any setting, from industrial workplaces to working with the public. In any role, an information professional may deal with books, journals, databases, spreadsheets, intranets, websites, DVDs, memory sticks, Powerpoints, or CD…librarians are constantly working with information, in all its physical and digital formats.
To the mind of the general public though, libraries = books. And that’s a hindrance for a profession that wants to be regarded as cutting-edge experts in knowledge and information management, and the first people to go to for input on topics relating to them. It feels similar to accountants having “abacus operators” in their professional titles: yes, it’s a thing that did once describe their whole profession, but now it looks outdated, and would be laughed at if suggested as a way forward now. If this exercise is about creating a name and brand that the public will recognise, and positioning the body as the leading group for information management issues, that term “information” has to be there, and visible. And the term “library” is one that today, holds the group back. That’s why I am perfectly happy not to be in a “Library” professional body.