Against the backdrop of “turbulent times” including the Brexit vote, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of the UK-based Chartered Insitute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), argues that “our ideas of the future society we want to build should be based on evidence, not prejudice.”
Speaking at the CILIP Government Information Group AGM and Members Day on 27 September, Poole puts forward the view that in the future we’re heading into, the skills and professional ethics of information professionals are going to be needed more than ever before. He states that:
A Government that is built on knowledge, evidence and data is a Government that makes better, more accountable, more successful decisions. Ultimately, I believe that our democracy is strongest when it is built on a culture of evidence and the free exchange of knowledge.
Poole praises the professionalism and dedication of the civil service, and also the widespread recognition across government of the need for efficient access to quality information. However, he alerts that senior civil servants, parliamentarians, and advisors are yet to make the link between this need and the skills and competencies of library and information professionals, with there being “too many people who believe that a digital box will solve what is fundamentally a human problem.”
To address this, Poole puts forward three priorities:
- Continuing to invest in the skills and CPD [continuing professional development] of information and library professionals, building a thriving and diverse workforce and ensuring that we can continue to attract talent into it.
- Building awareness among managers and decision-makers about how to make use of those skills to deliver their goals and objectives.
- Raising the level of information literacy in the general public so that they can be empowered to work with us and take control of the information in their lives.
He states that he doesn’t think that this will happen without advocacy, and puts forward milestones for CILIP to achieve in the next four years.
Poole welcomes what he sees are significant steps forward in regard to these priorities: the development of a UK Information Skills Strategy beginning in 2009, and the UK Government Knowledge and Information Management Professional Skills Framework and Knowledge and Information Principles. He says that these UK Government initiatives reflect “a growing understanding of knowledge and information management and librarianship in Government and how they relate to each other.”