So over the last week I’ve had a number of emails and phone calls in support of my post around Cilip’s idea of a Kitemark. In my post I highlight some of reasons that I worry it is not only a idea born out of a short sighted view of school libraries but that actually it also highlights CILIP and SLG’s distance from the main issues surrounding schools and their libraries and also with the education sector itself.
However, more I think about it the more wonder if CILIP has an ulterior motive behind this idea. It comes as no surprise to say that the world of school libraries is in dire straights and so are the the bodies that used to support and take care of them in their local areas. Too many school library services over the last few years have been closed unceremoniously leaving school libraries and school librarians in a unprecedented situation where not only do they not have the exporters and ‘bigger picture’ view a service has but also the advocacy and support that a service can provide. For instance when I worked in Herts we worked with and campaigned the head teachers to make sure that in our secondary schools a quality (not necessarily qualified!!!) librarian was employed.
Therefore my worries and concerns are that CILIP are trying to put themselves in a position where they feel they can greedily fill this need in schools. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cilip’s idea of a Kitemark allows CILIP to visit schools in a critical friend type way and charge them (handsomely no doubt) for the priveledge of providing a report on their quality and the offering further services to ‘bring them up to scratch’.
Now this may also be quite controversial (but if you can’t express your opinions then what’s the point of freedom of press) but there are certain school librarians who have favour with CILIP and also find themselves in a position of being able to offer services as they will no longer be working in schools. It would not surprise me if these two points also linked together. There are definitely some people that are trying to create a little niche for themselves and with this there will always come a great sense of personal gain coming before anything else.
Ther are also many reasons why I feel those people that no longer work in schools let alone school libraries should not offer advice to those still working in schools. Mainly as soon as you leave a school you become out of touch with education no matter how many blogs or journals you read, but also if you never really understood it in the first place you’re only ever going to provide services based on your own, biased, opinions and of course if you were any good in the first place you’d probably still be working in a school?!?
Whether or not this is the case though I certainly would feel disgusted if CILIP ever tried to do anything anything like this. They are an organisation that we pay our fees to to support us on a bigger stage to take the time to understand us and show us that not only do they ‘get us’ but they are on our side. Never have I felt this as a school librarian and at the moment I feel it even less than ever. They are devoid of any original ideas, of any understanding of the education sector and what is truly needed. They seem to rely too heavily on the views of a few school librarians who themselves work from such a narrow, out dated view that we end up with ideas such a Kitemark!!
On the outside, to just a normal member, CILIP seems to not only have lost its way but also its integrity as an organisation. Outside of school libraries they are so many things that highlight this. Have you looked at their great idea of their impact model?? One system that supposedly works for all sectors and allows a librarian to show the worth of what they do, it’s them same as their PKSB or whatever it’s called. You cannot create a model that works for everyone! In doing so you create an unwieldy document/view that is so watered down (to meet everyone’s differing needs) that it becomes useless or even worse ignores those specific sector’s needs that are just a little outside of the norm, school libraries being a great example!!
Back to Cilip’s Kitemark, which by all accounts seems to have an extremely short timeframe in its consultation stage and stinks again of CILIP just wanting to follow through their own agenda no matter what people think. From what I’ve heard this consultation relies on a couple of people asking their head teachers what they think (no doubt these are headteachers that already support their libraries, otherwise CILIP wouldn’t know about the librarians) and their very leading survey. There’s already been a lot of support on SLN for it, again from ‘those librarians’ with a narrow, out-dated view of school libraries but from those librarians, whose views I actually agree with, I’ve also had a lot of correspondence about their dismay towards such an idea.
We can only hope that CILIP see sense and abandon such a foolhardy idea but also in the long run that they abandon those ‘school librarians’ or former school librarians who are feeding them with a diatribe of utter rubbish that CILIP comes up with such a poor idea. It’s time they actually started to listen to people that know what they’re talking about start to do what we all hope and importantly pay for, i.e provide an organisation that actually has our best interests at heart.