On Wednesday evening I went along to the CLIG AGM, at the lovely Ye Olde Mitre. I’ve only recently joined CLIG, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that my employer would pay for membership – not only for CLIG, but apparently for any relevant professional body (my boss’ words were “CILIP, BIALL, any of the others you want to join, just send the invoice to accounts”!). As my new CLIG membership brings my total of professional body memberships up to four, I’m looking forward to testing that when the renewals come around…
At present, I am a member of CILIP, BIALL, SLA and CLIG. Out of these, I only paid for CILIP myself (at the reduced student rates, of course!) – SLA and BIALL both very kindly gave me free student membership as part of the awards I received from them (the ECCA and Alex McVitty Memorial Award respectively).
Clearly, I am very much in favour of professional body membership. I know there’s a certain amount of debate over whether membership of professional bodies is worthwhile – in particular, I have had conversations with colleagues about the benefits of CILIP membership for info pros in the legal sector, where CILIP membership/chartership is not a prerequisite for the job. I find it interesting to compare this with the situation in my former life as a freelance photographer – people bitched about how little the BIPP actually provided compared with the substantial membership fees (about £150 per year when I was a member), but would never consider not being a member. I think the main difference is that the BIPP was mainly a regulatory body: with so many photography courses available (usually with low or no entry requirements) and the availability of digital photography, you get an awful lot of interested amateurs setting themselves up as photographers, with no guarantee that they’ll be able to produce consistent results. BIPP membership was a was of reassuring clients that a) you’d been assessed for competency and b) they had someone to complain to if you screwed up.
As far as my four current memberships go, I do think they are all worthwhile. BIALL and CLIG both provide good opportunities for networking and sector-specific training and seminars; SLA has global reach, is great for networking and gives me access to a lot of great training resources through Click University (and I feel a certain amount of loyalty to them since they paid for me to go to their conference in Washington!), and CILIP… Well, if I’m honest, if I was going to drop one it would probably be CILIP. I am a member at the moment because it allows me to keep an eye on library developments outside of the legal sector – I am at the start of my career, and by no means certain that I will actually stay in law libraries long term (I’d like to, I really enjoy the work, I’m just aware that my job situation is a little precarious and I may not have the option to stay in law librarianship). I’ve also been to a few events recently run by the Career Development Group which I found really valuable, and CLSIG have some stuff coming up that looks interesting. The other reason for remaining a member of CILIP is that I’m still toying with the idea of chartering once I’ve finished library school: I’d almost decided against but there was an article in the most recent Legal Information Management about chartership in the legal information sector which made some compelling arguments for chartering.
Back to the CLIG AGM: it was a good evening, although I don’t think I was particularly good company (was recovering from a vicious bout of food poisoning, so apologies to anyone who was there if it looked like I was being anti-social – I didn’t mean to be, I just had absolutely zero energy!). I mainly went along because I was considering joining their committee. I don’t know if I will end up doing so or not – at any rate, there are two spaces available on the committee and about five or six people there on Wednesday were interested in joining, so the decision may be taken out of my hands! I do think they’d be an interesting one to join – being such a small group, it sounds like everyone pretty much pitches in together, rather than having separate committees for everything like BIALL do, so I think I’d probably get a lot out of it. It would mean a rather busy time for me – as well as attempting to write my dissertation (don’t ask how it’s going – it’s going, but that’s about all I can say without weeping!) I am also on the BIALL web board (although that doesn’t take up a tremendous amount of time) and am probably going to get involved in some way with the SLA Europe board. I’d like to add CLIG to that, mainly because I think that volunteering for a committee is the best way to make sure you actually get the most out of your membership. It’d also give me some experience in organising events, etc. that I’m unlikely to get from my job – not to mention being a great way to get to know other info pros in London. I guess I’ll wait and see what happens with this – it may end up being something that gets put on the back-burner until after I’ve finished my Masters.