Today I e-mailed Martyn Wade, Chair of CILIP Council, to say I was resigning from CILIP Council. At the Council meeting on 8 July we debated, for the first time since I was elected to Council, the Governance Review proposals.
I have written before about the Governance Review, and once more here: http://www.roper.org.uk/tr/2013/07/cilips-governance-review-update.html This review has been four years in preparation, and kept secret for most of that time. Indeed, at the first Council meeting I attended, in January of this year, the agenda item on it was taken in closed session. Then, only then, were the proposals put out for consultation.
Most of the proposals are innocuous, but there are two that are profoundly undemocratic, the proposal that a third of Council seats should be appointed, rather than elected from the membership, and the proposal that Council, rather than the members, should elect the President. Council is recommending these to CILIP’s AGM in September; I found myself in a minority of one when suggesting we should not support these when Council had its first opportunity to debate the substance of the proposals.
The Governance Review has been conducted during a period of a crisis in CILIP. As well as last year’s failed proposal to change our name to ILPUK, membership has sunk, and continues to do so. At the beginning of 2010 we had nearly 18,000 members; this year, in March our membership fell to its lowest ever figure, 13,342. At Council meetings it seemed to me that tackling this was not seen as the central concern it should be. It is not worthy of an entry in our risk register.
That crisis may explain why the Governance Review shows such a lack of confidence in the profession at large. We are not to be trusted to elect a President, and when we elect Council members, our judgment is likely to be flawed, so must be tempered by appointed members, who need not be CILIP members.
We desperately need a strong professional association. We need it to set standards, to bring on new generations of professionals, to speak out for library services of every kind which find themselves under threat. If we mute the voice of members in the way our organisation is run, we weaken ourselves, and those who depend on the services we run will suffer.