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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

Response to a blog post by Bob McKee, CILIP Chief Executive

November 26th, 2009

I’m not easily angered, but was infuriated by a recent blog post from CILIP’s Chief Executive, Bob McKee. The offending part of the post was a throwaway comment, towards the top, in which he referred to those voters who turned up and carried a proposal for an increase in membership fees through as ‘wonderful’. It doesn’t seem outrageous to read into this that those members of CILIP who voted against the proposal, and who were, for a range of reasons, unable to attend the meeting in person, were less than wonderful. I’ve reposted my comment on his blog below for your consideration.

Dear Bob

When I saw the results of the proposal for an increase in CILIP fees had gone through I was surprised by its approval. However, as CILIP is run by the democratic method I accepted that the views of the voting members had been represented. To be honest, I would expect the Chief Executive of CILIP to attempt to disguise his or her own views on such a vote, and to focus on the importance of the vote representing the members. I therefore saw your comment above about the ‘not wonderful’ proxy voters as not only personally insulting, but rather inappropriate.

I submitted a proxy vote against the increase in fees, and encouraged my colleagues to do the same. I had a good reason for doing so. I have recently graduated from a librarianship course. A large number of students on this course saw CILIP as a looming overexpensive drain on their resources. I strongly believe that charging higher and higher prices to account for a failure to recruit these new professionals is just going to drive them further away. I believe that raising fees does more harm to the long-term earning potential (and relevance) of CILIP than good.

The information profession is not my first calling, and I came to it with a strong belief in the importance and power of professional bodies. Therefore I will not be leaving CILIP in protest. I think working from inside CILIP is a better way to change it than leaving. My believe in working within an organisation for change is why I voted by proxy, despite being unable to attend the meeting. However, I sympathise strongly with those who are leaving, and think your (doubtless intended to be) throwaway comment above is only going to further alienate the disenfranchised.

I hope you will forgive me for also posting this comment on my blog. I also have little time, and hope to get extra value out of this content by reusing it.

Katie Fraser

I’d be interested to hear any comments, especially from new professionals on the way they see CILIP and its value to their own careers. Who knows, Bob McKee may even be interested in your thoughts.

4 Responses to “Response to a blog post by Bob McKee, CILIP Chief Executive”

  1. Domicus says:

    I sympathise with you on why you found that particular comment so annoying. As a young professional who isn't totally convinced by the argument for CILIP membership just yet, I find the comment rings "School Tie Network" alarm bells. Not a particularly persuasive sound. It also doesn't help that when I re-read it, I can only hear the words being said in a crunchingly supercilious Michael Winner voice. But that's my problem.

  2. Katie says:

    I'm liking the Michael Winner image! Perhaps he needs to channel a different celebrity to get the right tone. I remember Neil Morrisey being considered as the most likeable person in the country at one point, but maybe not an appropriate style for a chief exec!

  3. thewikiman says:

    Hmm, I see why you were annoyed. (Your comment has yet to appear, I see – I hope it gets approved.) Personally I don't mind the increase, because I don't feel under-represented by CILIP thus far and because it's a big chunk of money anyway so in real terms, an extra tenner or whatever it is won't make it that much more painful.

    I think the chief executive of a body is well within his rights to throw his weight behind a particular proposal, but it is very much *not* appropriate to dub those who support it as 'wonderful' and, as you say, by implication, those who do not support it as not wonderful. It doesn't sit right.

  4. thatblackbook says:

    Thanks. I've been wanting to comment on this one since I first saw it. My thoughts are similar to yours.

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