CILIP membership: what are you missing out on?

This post has been lurking in my drafts for quite a while now. I recently renewed my CILIP membership. In the past I’ve always paid my membership fee myself, but having recently started a new job I had the opportunity to request my membership fee be paid by my employer. Like everyone else our budget is tight and I had to put forward a strong case for the benefits of my CILIP membership. While putting together my case I’ve reacquainted myself with all the benefits CILIP membership offers, some of which I had either entirely forgotten about or never realised existed before!

This is not intended as an explanation of why I am a member of CILIP (see After the Storm: Thoughts on CILIP for that), but to help everyone who is a CILIP member make the most of their membership. Here’s a one page summary of what’s on offer.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Professional registration: This is one pretty much everyone knows about and it includes Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. It’s something I feel is an extremely important aspect of CILIP. I’m currently working towards Chartership and finding it a brilliant framework for my CPD, at a time in my career when I need to do a huge amount of CPD in a fairly short space of time, while juggling some big projects (moving a library, merging libraries, implementing a new library management system, RFID project …). You have to pay both to enrol for and to submit your portfolio for professional registration – £25 for Certification, £50 for Chartership and £65 for Fellowship. There is no charge for revalidation.

Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB): For me this kind of comes under Professional Registration, but even if you decide Certification/Chartership/Fellowship aren’t for you it could be a useful tool for mapping out your CPD. I’ve found it a bit woolly and confusing in places, but it has also opened up my eyes to areas of the profession I’ve not worked in and know very little about. It may not be perfect, but it’s a brilliant addition to CILIPs offering which just wasn’t there when I joined 4 years ago. When planning what to focus on for Chartership I found the gap analysis spreadsheet far easier to use than the PDF. I’ve also added various columns and will be using the spreadsheet to track my progress.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): I will admit I wasn’t exactly impressed with the VLE when it was launched, and the navigation still drives me nuts, but the range of resources on there is definitely growing and I’ve found some useful stuff recently.

E-learning from Maguire Training: One FREE module and further modules at a discounted price. A collection of over 100 short online CPD modules on a wide variety of topics from marketing and finance to leadership, time management and interviewing. Intended to support the generic skills section of the PKSB. I wish I’d discovered this one sooner, as I would definitely have made use of it.

LIBEX – international job exchange: Fancy travelling and experiencing the LIS sector elsewhere in the world? Exchange jobs with someone from the other side of the world!


Qualification credit points: This is one I didn’t know about and I don’t think I will be using any time soon, but if you’re doing a relevant academic or vocational qualification it might be useful. For Certification you can get up to 20 Level 8 credit points with the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA). You can get Open University general credit points for Chartership (30) and Fellowship (75).

Support in your professional role

Career coaching: This was another one that was new to me and one I might actually take advantage of this year. You get two free one-to-one email or phone sessions a year.

Employment law advice: Access to a helpline for advice and support with a range of personnel and employment law issues. As someone not responsible for HR matters, I hopefully won’t need to use this service any time soon, but it’s good to know it’s there.


There are all sorts of grants and bursaries available to CILIP members. Regional Member Networks and Special Interest Groups also offer grants and bursaries.  This list just contains those available to me as a CILIP East member and a member of MmIT and ILG in 2015, and only what I could find/remember. Sponsored places at conferences come up throughout the year, so keep an eye on mailing lists and check out what your regional member network and special interest groups offer.

  • Aspire Award: A full delegate place, with travel expenses and 3* hotel accomodation, for the CILIP conference for people who have joined the profession in the past 5 years.
  • IFLA conference grant: full and partial grants to enable CILIP members to attend the IFLA World Library and Information Congress. It seems how many people get a grant depends on where the conference is (and therefore how expensive it is to go).
  • The Travelling Librarian Award: £3000 to spend 2-3 weeks visiting and building relationships with libraries in the USA or a commonwealth country. This looks like an amazing opportunity you would be unlikely to be able to fund without the award and is something I hope to be in a position to apply to in the future.
CILIP East member network

Small Grants Fund: Up to £200 available (total of £1200 available in 2015, so several people can get a grant in one year) to allow you to undertake CPD activities you would otherwise be unable to undertake. Without this I wouldn’t have been able to attend Internet Librarian International 2015.

Multimedia and Information Technology Group (MmIT)
  • Bursary place at CILIP conference (now closed for 2016)
  • Bursary place at MmIT conference (awaiting details for 2016)
  • Bursary place at Internet Librarian International Conference (awaiting details for 2016)
Information Literacy Group (ILG)

CILIP Benevolent Fund: A bit different to all the other grants, the Benevolent Fund exists to help colleagues and their families who have fallen on hard times or have been faced with unexpected financial difficulties.


CILIP Update: I don’t often find CILIP’s member magazine particularly relevant to me, but it is quite useful for keeping up to date with news beyond my sector. You can read it online or via an app, but I prefer to take the hard copy to a tea break and give myself a screen break at the same time.

E-journals: This has been the most useful benefit of my CILIP membership to me in the past couple of years. As an information professional keen on evidence-based practice, not working in a university with e-resource access, I frequently hit paywalls when trying to keep up with recent LIS research. The access CILIP provides to SAGE journals, LISA and Proquest Library Science goes a reasonable way to solving this issue for me. Though I certainly wouldn’t object to a few more LIS researchers publishing open access!

MmIT Journal: Via my MmIT membership I have access to the quarterly journal of the MmIT group, with full-length features, news and technology updates, product reviews, dvd listings, moving image news, and book reviews.

Deals & Discounts



Club membership

  • 25% discount on joining fee of the Royal Over-Seas League
  • Temporary honorary membership of the Union Jack Club

MmIT Conference 2016 Call for Papers now open!

Digital Citizenship : What is the library’s role?

 A conference which explores and discusses several digital citizenship themes and the role and responsibility of the library and the librarian in supporting citizenry in the digital world.

The annual conference of the Cilip Multimedia, Information and Technology Group (MmIT) is taking place at the Edge Conference Centre at the University of Sheffield on Monday 12th September and Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Photograph of smart phone in use.Press showcase – Team metappolic” by ImagineCup is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

  1. How does your library enable electronic participation in society and provide digital access to information, knowledge and scholarship?
  2. Does your library support users in their understanding of digital trading and e-commerce?
  3. What is your library’s role in digital literacy and in helping users to understand the pedagogy of technology and the use of technology in all aspects of life?
  4. Do you help your users…

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Takeaways from UX Show and Tell

Oh dear, I’ve done it again; neglected the blog. Never mind, let’s try again.

So it appears attempting to spend time reflecting on an event and then writing up about it just doesn’t work for me (at least not at the moment). So I’m trying another tactic and throwing out a first impressions list of key points from an event I attended today.

I discovered at 10.30am this morning via Twitter that a UX show and tell event for librarians was happening in Cambridge this afternoon. I didn’t have anything in my calendar and this is a topic I’m particularly interested in so, after checking non-university librarians were welcome, I went. I’m not known for spontaneity, but I’m very glad I decided to go!

So, my thoughts:

  • There’s been lots of UX research going on in Cambridge libraries recently. I kind of knew this as I’d heard about the Protolib project going on at the moment, but I didn’t know any details.
  • Nobody regretted doing the research they had done. Although, I suppose if they had regretted doing it, they possibly wouldn’t have wanted to talk about it at this event.
  • Generally, post-it notes and approaching people in person seemed to be the most successful ways of recruiting participants. I found this too in the UX research I did for my MA dissertation.
  • A few libraries had tried the Love letter / Break-up letter method. For some it worked brilliantly, for others it was a flop. Why? Don’t know.
  • Getting students to engage in photo-based methods was unsuccessful for the two libraries which tried this. Why? Again, don’t know.
  • One study found that what people already in a space were doing defined how someone coming into that space felt they could behave. This brought up the question of whether we should clearly signpost the intented purpose of a space or just let users choose what they want to do in that space. The answer given was see what they’re doing and then signpost, which seems reasonable to me.
  • In another study it was found that the users really liked the “open privacy” of the space and being surrounded by print books, even if they were using online resources. This library has alternating desks and book stacks in the main reading room.
  • It can be really hard to leave your preconceptions behind you when conducting a touchstone tour of a space you know well (i.e. your own library!)
  • The ethnographic approach can be addictive and can pull you down lots of different paths. Try to stay focussed on your research question – you could always conduct another study if something really interesting crops up.

Thank you very much to all the speakers and organisers for putting together this event. It was a very interesting and useful afternoon.

Tagul: highly customisable word clouds

I was creating a word cloud at work today, and came across Tagul. You have to sign up to use it, but once you have, it’s brilliant.

You can create a list of the words you want to use, take words from a website or paste in text you want to use.  There are several standard shapes, with customisable aspect ratio, and a range of fun shapes you can choose from, or you can upload your own. Colour, font and word direction are also customisable. If there are any particular words you want in a particular colour, location, size or angle, you can set those for individual words, while leaving the settings random for other words.

The word clouds below give you an idea of what you can do with Tagul (and use this blog as a source for the words).

Rainbow swirl / flower (reminds me of the Altmetric doughnut)

Rainbow swirl / flower: an inbuilt shape, colours and all (it reminds me of the Altmetric doughnut)

It's not just pretty patterns. For example, there's a wine glass (illustrated), flames, a tree and a turtle.

It’s not just pretty patterns. For example, there’s a wine glass (illustrated), flames, a tree and a turtle.

How about a dolphin?

How about a dolphin?

Or just a circle?

Or just a circle?

In any colours you like!

In any colours you like!

Or upload your own image (this one is my one of my dance groups' logos)

Or upload your own image (this one is my one of my dance groups’ logos)

Squishy boolean

Squishy boolean is a term I came across in Marydee Ojala’s presentation at Internet Librarian International.  I loved the sound of the term (cuddly boolean, how fun!) but wasn’t entirely sure what it meant.  I received the same sentiment from others on twitter so decided to check it out.

It seems squishy boolean was a term coined in 2005 by Mary Ellen Bates¹ and refers to a range of search algorithms less rigid than boolean, such as “preferably includes”, relevancy ranking, using approximate matches to your search terms and personalised search results.

What really hit me reading this article was that Bates was talking about squishy boolean giving the searcher more control.  The idea of the user choosing if they wanted to use this squishy boolean, and then choosing how they wanted to use it.  Whereas, what we now have in most search systems is squishy boolean imposed upon us whether we want it or not, and often there is no way of finding out what algorithms have been used.

To me, this is a real shame.  Sometimes, squishy boolean is great.  For example, I can type the word boots into google, and right at the top of the results is a map of Cambridge (my hometown) with pins for each of the Boots stores and their opening time beneath.  Google successfully translates my one word into the not exactly simple question “When and where can I get to a Boots shop?”, understanding that I don’t want to travel a long way and the shop needs to be open.

On the other hand, there are times when I don’t want to do a ‘normal’ search.  Perhaps I’ve got a more complex search to do.  I’ve found various techniques to get around Google’s assumption that it knows best: putting search terms in quotation marks; using – when I want to search for x NOT y; searching for specific file types or in certain domains.  But these techniques aren’t easy to find and those available are different for different search interfaces.  And when I don’t want personalised results I’ll use a different search engine (if you want some ideas of what to use check out Phil Bradley’s website).

I was discussing how google personalises search results with a couple of non-library colleagues last week and it scares them.  They feel uncomfortable with not understanding google’s magic black box and feel they should use something else that doesn’t ‘steal’ their data, but don’t really want to leave the convenience and familiarity of google. They were keen to learn about different options open to them, and wanted to be able to make an informed choice about when and if to use different search engines.  Whatever type of library we work in, this is something librarians can offer users advice on. It’s all part of digital information literacy.

At Internet Librarian International last week Marydee Ojala predicted that web search will get better, but not for librarians.  It may get better at working out what we ask the majority of the time, but I’m not sure the web search experience will get better for anyone.  Privacy concerns and the ever decreasing transparency of search engine workings do not create a happy searching public. We (librarians) need to help.

  1. Bates, M. E. (2005) online spotlight: Squishy Boolean. Online 29.2: 64

For those anyone with CILIP membership you can access this article via LISA.  Yes, your CILIP membership gives you e-journal access!  From the CILIP homepage go to Membership –> Benefits –> Monthly magazine, journals and ebulletins –> Online journals and select the ejournal collection/database of your choice.  Bates’ full article is available via Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA).

5 highlights from Internet Librarian International 2015

1. Data visualisation

2. Apps in the Library

3. Thinking playfully

4. Ethnographic research in the library

5. Altmetrics

Should Altmetric impact your choice of reference/citation tool?

If I were to save an article to a Mendeley library, that would be counted by Altmetric.  If I were to save the same paper to a RefME library, it wouldn’t.

Altmetric and it’s colourful little doughnut is becoming more and more commonplace.   The use of these metrics is also becoming more widespread.

Example of the Altmetric doughnut from the BioOne platform

Example of the Altmetric doughnut from the BioOne platform

At the same time, options for reference or citation management tools are still increasing.  I was introduced to a relatively new option, RefME, just last week at Internet Librarian International 2015.  As part of the learning or research support we offer, librarians often recommend and/or teach particular reference/citation management tools to our users.

One of the things Altmetric measures is the number of readers an article has, using data from reference management tools.  However, Altmetric only counts readers on 2 platforms currently – Mendeley and CiteULike – although they are hoping to add Zotero soon.  Should we be worried about whether our library users are being counted in Altmetric’s statistics? And if so, how high up the priority list should this be when assessing the suitability of a reference management tool for an individual or for general promotion?

If we recommend a reference management tool to our users and they all start using it, it could impact on the Altmetric reader counts for the articles they are reading.  If they are reading research produced by our institution, and the impact or value of that research is being assessed, at least in part, by Altmetric’s data, then that’s good for our institution isn’t it?  Part of me feels this isn’t fair, and it’s just another example of being able to ‘play the game’ and influence metrics by knowing how they work.  But then another part feels I should want to contribute to this new metric, to improve it and add to the data by having what I am reading counted.

So what do you think?  Have any libraries chosen to promote Mendeley or CiteULike because of Altmetric?  Would you consider doing so?  I’m really interested to know what you think.

Corrected to clarify that although Altmetric counts Mendeley and CiteULike readers, they do not contribute to the Altmetric score.  See Stacy Konkiel’s comments for more information.