Has CILIP got an ulterior motive?

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.

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6 Comments

  1. Just a point. You cannot have a ‘Librarian’ who is not qualified. You might have someone who is library worker/staff/assistant but just like ‘teacher’ the title comes with the qualification. If they were not qualified they were not a librarian.

    • I’d have to disagree with you there I’m afraid. A librarian is someone that is doing the job and there are many of these across the whole of the school library sector. Just because they do not have the qualification of having been to library school does not make them any less of a librarian. I have no library qualifications and feel I’m a better librarian in my sector for that exact reason.

      • You can disagree Adam but your opinion is not a fact. To be a librarian you have to hold a qualification or chartered status. I can call myself a teacher because I have a training qualification but it doesn’t make me one officially.

        You say you are not a librarian but yet you hold MCLIP status, which makes you a librarian as this is another route into the profession. However, until you gained that status you were not a librarian, just as a teaching assistant is not a ‘teacher’ regardless of the value role they play.

        If you feel that you are better librarian for not holding a qualification I assume you support the governments principle that anyone can be a teacher, whether qualified or not? With that in mind how many unqualified teachers does your school employ?

      • It always saddens me when someone expresses these opinions as they do a lot more harm than good. They are extremely outdated views that do nothing but further the view of a ‘club’ mentally where those that do not hold the qualifications are excluded. Not only that but they are extremely derogatory towards those people doing a fantastic job in their roles of everything that makes a librarian yet are refused the title because they do not what you view to be the relevant paperwork.
        I do not have a qualification in librarianship I have an MCLIP which is a recognition, however if I were to stop paying my fees towards CILIP I would no longer hold those postnominals. Does then then mean that over night I suddenly lose the ability to call myself a librarian?
        You don’t say which sector you work in however you may or may not be away of PGCEs, of TeachFirst of Schools Direct where the people undertaking these courses are exactly that unqualified teachers. In fact some of the best teachers I have worked with started off as unqualified teachers especially as they worked in the sector that they then wished to teach in and it was this first hand knowledge and experience that makes them a better teacher. And for me that is what makes me a better librarian in my sector (not librarian full stop) because I know education, I know teaching and I know schools. So I am more qualified to know exactly what it is that is needed.
        Unfortunately the views you hold are shared by too many and are the reason so few enter the profession and are not encouraged to do so via retraining. You are holding back the profession by perpetuating the club and not seeing that actually anyone can become a librarian and it is our job to encourage them to do so, to welcome them with an embrace. To learn from them and help guide them not fear them, shun them and or be derogatory towards them.

  2. “f you were any good in the first place you’d probably still be working in a school?!?”
    Really Adam? You really think that? How insulting to your school librarian colleagues who are not as lucky as you in their employer. They were not made redundant because they were not doing a good job, or even because the school did not value them as individuals and professionals. I think you need to realise that your school is extremely unusual and you are very lucky to have the support that you do.
    I also take issue with you assertion above that you are a better librarian because you are not qualified – although I agree that qualification in itself does not make a good librarian, not having them is not the reason you are one! (which you are, of course, I hasten to add, but please don’t devalue the qualifications which many of us value.)
    I agree with many of the points you make in both these articles about CILIP and the kitemark, but at least CILIP is beginning to think about the dire situation in schools. Your blog post is confrontational – not necessarily a bad thing – but also alienating to those who are trying to support beleaguered colleagues.
    There is not one model of what a school library should be.

    • I certainly said nothing about school librarians being made redundant however my point is those people who offer advice to schools who no longer work from them cannot truly understand and offer meaningful advice.
      I certainly feel that my qualifications make me a better librarian in a school, my qualifications are specific to my sector and so I lead things with an education mind rather than a public library one. I also don’t agree that I am devaluing those who do have qualifications in librarianship just for me I’m glad I don’t. However it does seem as though that it is ok to devalue those who do not have those qualifications even though you agree having them does not necessarily make a good librarian.
      That’s the beauty of a blog in that you can be entirely vocal in your own thoughts and opinions. I don’t necessarily want anyone to agree with me however I do feel I have a right to express my opinions.
      You are right there is indeed no one model, one of my main points, and it is for this exact reason that a system like this won’t work. I’ve seen some arguments for the mark stating that we need to show value to those that are doing a good job however this completely misses the objective and what we actually need, which is someone showing the schools that do not value their library and librarian to do so!!

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