After many years as a public librarian, I moved into a new role at CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) working between the institute and employers in our profession. Having been public library focussed, I am now discovering our broad and beautiful profession as a whole. Much of my time and attention has been on Information and Knowledge Management, particularly in Government and Health.
When looking at the broader library and information profession, it is natural to look for the cross-sector similarities and differences. Whilst I recognise the differences, as my knowledge increases, I see more and more similarities. What unites us as a profession applies as much in health as it does in Government or public libraries. In my opinion, the following four common themes apply across the profession.
Information to our end user: Organisations rely on having the best available information accessible in an efficient way to inform decision making. This clearly applies in clinical decision making and in providing public patient information; however that end user could also be the financial director of a corporation or a public library customer or a commanding officer in the army. They rely on information professionals to provide accurate information in a timely way. Our ability to deliver that has great impact on the success of that organisation’s or individual’s outcomes.
Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB): CILIP’s PKSB is a framework that maps the essential skills and abilities across the profession. Whilst some sections apply more in certain sectors than others, the PKSB provides a comprehensive document to aid professional development and help information professionals to articulate both the broad and the deeply technical skills they hold. These skills are valuable and transferable. They will help us to adapt and evolve.
Professional ethics: Our professional ethics unite us across sectors. We endeavour to deliver the best possible services within our resources whilst balancing the needs of our employers and our users. We defend and advance access to information and demand the equitable treatment of information users. As a profession we understand the importance of impartiality, confidentiality and the integrity of information. All information professionals should be proud of these wide ranging and noble ethics.
Vulnerability to financial impact: This is certainly not limited to our profession, but we are all working in challenging financial times. The ability to advocate for the value of trained information professionals is essential across sectors. Being able to influence stakeholders about the importance of our roles and departments is clearly vital for us individually, but also for the benefit of the organisations as a whole. We add value and improve outcomes; we must equip ourselves to articulate this clearly. CILIP members will have access to the Impact Toolkit for this purpose, plus workforce mapping and commissioned research into the Value of Trained Library and Information Professionals has just been released.
Our skills are vital for an economy based on knowledge sharing. Change is inevitable and service development is essential. In response, we have to become increasingly adaptable and able to demonstrate our transferable skills. Continuing professional development and reflective practice are essential as we adapt to new roles in our sectors or even move into new ones. In this shifting environment, CILIP, as a professional body can act as a constant. It offers a core of professional ethics that apply across the board, a place to anchor your skills and abilities in the PKSB as a common framework, a way to have your professional development recognised in Professional Registration. It also offers the chance to be part of something bigger; a channel for central advocacy. I believe that raising the awareness of the value of information professionals in one sector acts to raise awareness for all. It provides a community and opportunities to help us be the fully-rounded professionals we all need to be as our services evolve.
Jo Cornish Development Officer (Employers) at CILIP