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Archive for January, 2011

I’m not usually superstitious (ok, so I blink if I see a solo magpie to make sure I see two, that doesn’t count) but when I realised the first CILIP Council meeting of 2011 was on January 13th I felt a twinge. But it was Thursday not Friday so no problem there. And we were to have an Induction and Training Day the day before which I was really looking forward to, so nothing could go wrong. Right?

On 6th January I started to feel unwell, and by Friday when I got to the GP’s surgery I must have looked and sounded pretty bad because the people with appointments before me suggested I went in first. The Doctor was great, but said I needed blood tests and scans to find out exactly what the problem is. In the meantime he gave me some very strong painkillers and emphasised I must not drive etc. when taking them. He said I must go back to him in a week if the painkillers made the pain ‘bearable’ (what?!) but to ring the out of hours service immediately if they didn’t work or I became jaundiced.

Fortunately the painkillers started to make the pain ‘bearable’ by Tuesday but I really didn’t think I could manage 2 days away from home so I made the decision that the Council meeting was more important than the training-day. I was determined not to miss the first  meeting because I felt I would be letting a lot of people down.

So, at 03:45 I got up to make sure I caught the first train which leaves the nearest station at 05:34 bound for London Paddington, due to arrive at 08:40 – enough time to be at CILIP HQ in good time for the 09:30 start.

Except we arrived 20 minutes late, and my taxi driver got lost. So I was 5 minutes late. Not the first impression anybody wants to make. I got a welcoming nod from Annie Mauger, a smile from Biddie Fisher, and a warm grin from Isabel Hood who indicated an empty seat between her and John Woolley (Managing Director CILIP Enterprises). I arrived just as the vote for Chair was taken and Isabel Hood was elected. Dion Lindsay was nominated for the role of Vice Chair, and duly elected. Then Judy Broady-Preston was elected to continue in her role as Treasurer.

The next stage of the proceedings was the inauguration of the incoming President, Brian Hall. Biddy made a very gracious speech and handed over the Presidential medal. In return Brian thanked her for everything she has done in her year as President, saying she would be a very hard act to follow. Biddy then received the Immediate Past President medal (a bit more discreet than the Presidential medal it has to be said). Nobody gave anything to Phil Bradley, the incoming Vice President. Except lots of work of course.

As some of us hadn’t made the training day (so, not just me) there was a quick round of introductions, which was really useful. Then we were into the meeting proper. After the private business was completed, the lunch break provided an opportunity to meet some of the CILIP team. They were all very welcoming and helpful. I was interested to speak to some of the team about the importance of libraries and librarians in FE, and have provided some contact names so if you know me and suddenly get contacted by CILIP, sorry!

We then reconvened for the public part of the business. Emma McDonald is the official Blogger for Council, so I shan’t repeat everything she will be saying, and the minutes will be made public. But I will say that the work Annie has been doing to raise the profile of the profession and be a strong advocate for us all was detailed, like the letter to all MPs. The information will go on the CILIP site as CILIP in the News for everyone to see and hopefully some information will also go in Update to direct people to the relevant pages on the site. It was really good to hear the passion in the room, and also to understand the constraints representatives of CILIP are under when making public statements. While we all agree that the present priority is the threat to public libraries and services there was a strong awareness and determination to advocate all sections of the profession. It was pointed out that school libraries were also under threat, and CILIP is very well aware of all the work it has to do.

The day for me was about learning how Council works, the personalities involved and where I might be able to be of best use. I have some ideas myself, but it is obviously where the CEO and Council as a whole think people are needed that will decide it as far as I can tell. There are definitely some strong and vocal personalities in Council, and a lot to think over. First impressions are there is a lot to do, we are all in it together and we need to get on with it not just talk about it.

I missed my first train home.  Then they announced there were 45 minute delays between Paddington and Reading because some poor soul had been killed on the line. I thought I would take the alternate route via Newport, but those trains were cancelled due to flooding.  So I got the next direct train. We sat there and sat there and sat there. The Guard announced there was an engineer working on the engine. We sat there and sat there and sat there. The Guard announced the problem was quite tricky. We sat there and sat there and sat there. The Guard announced the train was cancelled, and to go to the furthest platform and catch the train there. It terminated 6 stops before my station but those of us travelling beyond the termination point (bad choice of words) could change there. What he didn’t say was that the connection would be a 45 minute wait. So I rang my other half and he said he would meet me at the termination point. My painkillers had by now worn off and I just wanted the day to end. When we disembarked I shuffled to the car park, opened the car door, and the bloke next to us reversed out of his space without looking, or steering apparently,  took the door out of my hands and missed me by inches. He was very apologetic, and my other half was remarkably calm about it, but I was rather shaken.

The journeys were awful, the pain was debilitating, but the day was, overall, a success for me. I learnt a lot about the role I have been elected to that no amount of reading prior to the event could have told me. I feel there is a real desire to move forward, engage in the debates and shape the future of the profession. Only time will tell, but I thought I felt the wind of change. Or it may have been the draft from a car missing me by inches.

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