CILIP Update: GCHQ, how refreshing

This months (October 2011) CILIP Update included a piece about GCHQ: Official site of the UK Government Communications Headquarters which is the centre for Her Majesty’s Government’s Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) activities. These are my thoughts.

‘I don’t recruit a records manager, or legislation experts, or web content managers, I recruit information professionals. Understand that I am looking for people who are flexible, and agile, and prepared to USE the skills common to all these roles.’ Karen mcFarlane, Head of Profession, GCHQ

Passionate about CPD, Karen encourages her staff at GCHQ to charter and revalidate (CILIP). She says that many of the group are trained CILIP mentors. There are recruitment bonuses for people who charter and an hour a week for professional development. There is also a KIM ‘career stream’ at GCHQ. These are good incentives!

“There are many misconceptions about working at GCHQ. We know from experience that some people think we’re somehow a ‘secret’ business, where brainy ‘boffins’ work in darkened rooms, talk in hushed tones and avoid contact with the outside world. Others watch popular TV shows like ‘Spooks’ and take it at face value. The reality is of course rather different.” (Life at GCHQ)

So with this in mind, I wondered if we could talk about how CILIP responds to this type of progressive and broad skills set, which moves away from aiming at a specific role within libraries.

Currently, at CILIP, we cite the items below as essential LIS skills:

  • develop the specialised subject knowledge of the sector you work in
  • understand and use appropriate technology and systems to select, organise and find material relevant to your users
  • keep up to date with advances in technology and social media
  • develop the information literacy of your users
  • produce information alerting services
  • work as part of a team
  • use effective communication and interpersonal skills
  • deliver high levels of customer service skills

I think that ones outlined by Sue Myburgh, Susie Kay, and even Jennifer Marie Eustis are more relevant* Here’s what I think:

  • Use effective communication and interpersonal skills
  • Be familiar with at least one integrated library/information management system and main types of classification schedules
  • Understand and use appropriate technology and systems to select, organise and find material relevant to your users
  • Keep up to date with advances in technology AND social media
  • Knowledge of encoding of content designation (MARC21 and other schema) including knowledge of XML
  • Knowledge of institutions ILS including maintenance, record loads, and other administrative database tasks
  • Personal resilience
  • Multi tasking
  • Horizon scanning as well as reflective practice
  • CPD passionate
  • Professionalism

*Sue Myburgh (2005) The New Information Professional. Chandos: England

Susie Kay (2010) Professionalism The ABC for success. Professionalism Books: England

Jennifer Marie Eustis (2010) Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century. Libraries Unlimited: England

‘thoughts from scarlettlibrarian’

One thought on “CILIP Update: GCHQ, how refreshing

  1. Pingback: What does ‘Embedded Librarian’ mean? « Books and Library nerd stuff

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