Does the structure and organisation of governance within CILIP have relevance in Wales, and how should it be reformed in order to be more streamlined, readily understood and effective? This was the subject of the most recent CILIP Cymru Wales Committee Meeting on 8th November. Through their discussion Committee members recognised: the need for change, noting that representation from the UK Nations, including CILIP Cymru Wales, is essential in future governance structures. Committee members also welcomed the recognition that Wales and the other UK Nations are more than CILIP Branches. The Governance Review consultation continues and this blog is provided to encourage you to have your say!
It hopefully hasn’t escaped your notice that CILIP is undertaking a range of review projects in order to make it an organisation fit for the future. Some of these may have more of a direct impact on you than others. Hopefully the Professional Knowledge & Skills Base, part of the Future Skills project, will support you in planning your career development, assessing your strengths, or in planning a career move. Your Special Interest Group membership may change as a result of the Branch and Group Review (e.g. CoFHE and UC&R now form the Academic & Research Libraries Group; and there is the recently merged Community, Diversity & Equalities Group) or through the creation of new groups. But you may wonder if reforms of CILIP’s governance arrangements have any direct impact on you. It would be all too easy to think not!
Let’s face it, organisational governance fills very few people with excitement. It’s akin to those household tasks that must be done, but that no one enjoys doing: cleaning the oven; organising the boiler service; renewing the insurance; or moving the mortgage. As unpleasant as these may be, they are essential and there are reassurances that result from their successful completion.
Currently CILIP has an elected Council of 12 members. These are usually experienced professionals coming from a wide range of organisations and experience. Many Council Members stand for election wishing to use their skills, knowledge, experience and strategic thinking in order to shape the future of our profession. Fighting to maintain and promote our code of professional ethics and standards. Working to champion the profession, our services and our colleagues; to raise the profile of the profession and lobby for the appropriate recognition that our roles in our communities and society justly deserve.
The reality for Council Members is, however, far from this. Members are also Trustees of the Charity, and in this role they spend much time pondering finances, budget plans, organisational compliance and the state of the pension fund.
In order for CILIP to face the future with confidence, it needs to change, devising and implementing efficient but appropriate decision making structures. Several other charitable and membership organisations have also undertaken governance review, and these are serving as examples and points of comparison. In discussions with John Dolan (Chair of CILIP Council) on Thursday 8 November, your national committee members welcomed this review and emphasised the importance of:
• Recognising that Wales is more than a CILIP Branch. We talk in terms of a “National Office” for Wales: we have a paid Policy Officer within CILIP Cymru; liaise with national organisations such as CyMAL, the Society of Chief Librarians in Wales, Welsh High Education Libraries Forum, etc. This distinction is truly justified. Libraries are, of course, a devolved matter in Wales, and we are seeing different policy implemented in Wales, and in some areas Wales excels because of this.
• Dedicated representation of Welsh issues on the revised arrangements for CILIP Governance is therefore essential. There is no Welsh representative on the current CILIP Council. This should not be the case in future. How this representation is arrived at was discussed. Elected by the membership, or, appointed by the Committee or Annual General Meeting? The mechanism was not decided, but clearly this would need to result in an appropriately knowledgeable and strong spokesperson for Wales.
• Charities Law currently differs between England & Wales and Scotland. In future, separate charities law may also possibly exist for Wales. Welsh representation should therefore also be acknowledged within the Trustees.
• Members also noted the confusion between the roles of President, Vice-President and the Chair of Council, further acknowledging the difficulty if a Vice President chooses not to become President. Could a more visible Patron or Figurehead be useful given the increasing advocacy work undertaken by CILIP? Would there be benefits in having several Vice Presidents, each having a different focus, and not all going on to become President?
Perhaps you are now convinced that governance does matter! Do you agree with committee members in their views? Please feel free to continue the discussion here. Or, better still, contribute your views to the CILIP Governance Review directly!