I joined CILIP while doing my Masters1 - our lecturers encouraged us to join, but I got mixed signals from them about the usefulness of CILIP as an organisation. I was working in a public library at the time, and I got the impression that there weren't many librarians in my local authority who were members - I spoke to one librarian who was rather dismissive of CILIP's effectiveness as an advocate for the library profession in the UK.
However, I have been a member now for over two years now. I don't regret it at all.
- CILIP is not perfect, but there are a lot of good things that they do - it is definitely preferable to nothing.
- Membership has many benefits - Special Interest Groups, local groups, conferences, chartership, training opportunities, advocacy, resources, tools, research, publications, job listings...
- Not participating will not improve CILIP's effectiveness - join and help shape CILIP into your image!
As part of your CILIP membership, you also get to choose membership of two Special Interest Groups (you can join more, but that costs money). I am currently a member of the Youth Libraries Group and the School Libraries Group. I have previously been a member of the Public and Mobile Libraries group and the Community, Diversity and Equality group. These special interest groups all run there own training, events and publications, too.
I am also currently in the process of joining the School Library Association, which will give me access to more CPD and training opportunities, resources, networks and publications.
Finally, I am part of a couple of informal school library groups:
- School Librarians' Network (SLN) is a very active Yahoo! group that has been around since the 90s, and is a veritable gold mine of advice, resources and support.
- The Brighton School Librarian Network is an informal, termly gathering of school (and youth-focussed public) librarians in the Brighton area. Shortly after joining, I created an online discussion space for the group using Wiggio, which has really increased communication between the school libraries.
As an isolated librarian (I don't work directly with other librarians), having all these networks, connections and what-nots at my beck and call is fantastic and an indispensable resource that I mine on a daily basis. I don't know what I'd do without them.